Placing David Freese in the leadoff spot immediately paid dividends for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Hyun-Jin Ryu turned in a clunker of a start, and the Milwaukee Brewers forced the National League Championship Series to a Game 7 with a 7-2 victory.
Freese opened Game 6 with a home run off Wade Miley to join Davey Lopes (1978 World Series), Carl Crawford (2013 NL Division Series), Chris Taylor (2017 World Series) and Joc Pederson (2018 NLDS) as Dodgers to hit a home run leading off a postseason game.
But the excitement with it was quickly tempered as the Brewers immediately responded. The bottom of the first inning began inauspiciously as Loreno Cain reached on an infield single.
Ryu nearly got out of the inning as he struck out Travis Shaw after walking Ryan Braun. However, back-to-back doubles by Jesús Aguilar and Mike Moustakas led to the Brewers taking a 3-1 lead. Erik Kratz extended it by following with an RBI single, sending Miller Park into a frenzy.
The string of hits continued as Orlando Arcia hit a sinking line drive for a base hit to left field, and Miley made solid contact but lined out to center field. Milwaukee jumped on Ryu again in the second, with Christian Yelich doubling and Braun scoring him with a double of his own.
The extra-base hit was Yelich’s first in 22 at-bats during the NLCS. Ryu managed to work a 1-2-3 third, which was his final inning of the night. The four earned runs he allowed were the most of any start this year.
Miley largely cruised along after the rocky first inning before giving way with one out in the fifth. The exit was self-inflicted as he walked pinch-hitter Brian Dozier, giving up an RBI double to Freese, and walking Max Muncy on four pitches.
Milwaukee pieced the rest of the game together by relying on Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress and Corbin Burnes. Knebel retired Justin Turner and struck out Manny Machdo to strand the two runners he inherited in the fifth inning.
Knebel hit a batter in the sixth but got through a second scoreless inning of work. Jeffress set the Dodgers down in order in the seventh and Burnes followed suit in the eighth and ninth innings to finish out the win.
Josh Hader began to warm up in the bottom of the seventh but a wild pitch got by Yasmani Grandal with the bases loaded, and it extended the Brewers’ lead to 6-2. When Brian Dozier failed to make the transfer on a would-be inning-ending double play, Aguilar promptly made the Dodgers pay by hitting an RBI single off Rich Hill.
That sealed Brewers manager Craig Counsell with having the luxury of preserving Hader for an extended workload in winner-take-all Game 7.
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