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Dodgers’ ninth-inning comeback falls just short as Braves go 2-0 in series

His teammate Ozzie Albies homered in the ninth for the second night in a row, a solo shot that would prove huge for the Braves given the Dodger rally, and for the second time in a row the ball was caught in the bullpen by closer Mark Melancon.

Melacon came on with two outs after Corey Seager’s RBI double and Max Muncy’s two-run homer. Albies made a fielding error on Will Smith’s grounder to second, and reigning national league MVP Cody Bellinger hit an RBI triple. AJ Pollock then hit a game-ending groundout to end a four-hour, 12-minute game.

Will Smith scores for the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth.

Will Smith scores for the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth.Credit:Getty Images

Rookie Ian Anderson extended his post-season scoreless streak in an abbreviated start, and Atlanta became just the fourth team in major league history to begin a post-season 7-0. The Braves have outscored opponents 37-12.

Game three is Thursday (AEDT), with 24-year-old playoff veteran Julio Urias pitching for the Dodgers against Kyle Wright, another rookie right-hander for the Braves. There have been 14 teams take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS, and all have gone on to win the pennant.

The Dodgers, who had the best record in the pandemic-shortened season, trailed 7-0 until Seager’s three-run homer to greet A.J. Minter in the seventh.

Only seven weeks after his big league debut with the Braves, Anderson has pitched 15 2/3 scoreless innings and is only the second pitcher in major league history to start his postseason career not allowing a run in three consecutive starts of at least four innings. The other was Hall of Fame right-hander Christy Mathewson, who threw three shutouts in the 1905 World Series for the New York Giants.

Tyler Matzek, the second of seven Atlanta pitchers, worked two scoreless innings for the win.

When Kershaw was scratched in favor of a likely start later in the series, it set up the second match-up of rookie starting pitchers in a league championship series.

Gonsolin’s post-season debut came 17 days after his prior game. The right-hander struck out seven and allowed only three hits, but gave up five runs and walked three in 4 1/3 innings.

Freeman hit a ball more than 400 feet into the right-field seats, similar to his solo shot in game one, after Ronald Acuna jnr walked leading off the fourth. Gonsolin was done when Acuna walked again in the fifth, right after an RBI double by rookie Cristian Pache, in the line-up after Adam Duvall was removed from Atlanta’s NLCS roster because of a left oblique injury sustained in the series opener.

Pedro Baez then walked two of his four batters, including Travis d’Arnaud with the bases loaded before Albies’ sacrifice fly on which Bellinger made an impressive leaping catch on the run in centre field.

AP

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