The Los Angeles Dodgers dug out of an early hole to eventually put even but couldn’t overcome Freddie Freeman’s go-ahead home run that propelled the Atlanta Braves to staving off elimination with a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
After needing just five pitches to work a 1-2-3 first inning, the seemingly unflappable Walker Buehler combusted in what amounted to a five-run second. Buehler walking opposing starter Sean Newcomb with the bases loaded to bring in the Braves’ first run of the NLDS was maddening, but it was a Ronald Acuña Jr. grand slam that proved to be the backbreaker.
After intentionally walking Charlie Culberson to load the bases, Newcomb walked on four pitches. Buehler’s first three offerings to Acuña were all for ball. What initially seemed a like a gift, a fourth pitch was called for a high strike. In reality, it led to a three-run swing against the Dodgers.
Buehler’s next pitch was in the same vicinity, and that time Acuña swung away for a mammoth 414-foot blast. At 20 years old, he became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in MLB postseason history.
To Buehler’s credit, he responded to get through five innings by retiring 10 batters in a row after putting the Dodgers in a 5-0 deficit.
They did just that in the third inning, with some assistance from Acuña in the field. Similar to Buehler, Newcomb suddenly lost command of the strike zone and issued a pair of walks. The second of which was to Chris Taylor to put two on with two outs, and marked the end of the night for Newcomb.
Postseason stalwart Justin Turner got the Dodgers on the board with an RBI single to left field off Kevin Gauseman, the Braves’ original Game 3 probable. Taylor scored a second run when Acuña overran the ball.
Gauseman worked into his own trouble in the fifth inning when a leadoff walk later led to Chris Taylor hitting a two-run home run with two strikes. Max Fried entered with two outs in the inning, only to throw one too many breaking balls to Max Muncy. His second home run of the NLDS tied the game.
For all their success and jubilation with erasing a 5-0 deficit, leaving the bases loaded in the sixth ultimately proved costly. Alex Wood’s first pitch in the bottom half of the inning was hit by Freeman for the go-ahead homer that stood as the difference for the Braves.
The Dodgers stranded two runners in the eighth inning and left Joc Pederson and Turner on base after they opened the inning with a single and walk, respectively. The Braves used six relievers to finish out the game, which could loom large as the series heads to Game 4 and a potential Game 5.
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