The relentless Atlanta Braves have the Los Angeles Dodgers on their heels in the National League Championship Series.
Behind another MVP-level performance from Freddie Freeman, the Braves held on to an 8-7 victory in Game 2. Atlanta now owns a commanding 2-0 series lead and is two wins from securing the franchise’s first World Series appearance since 1999.
As he did in Game 1, Freeman opened the scoring with a home run. On Monday, it was a first-inning solo shot. This time, it was a two-run blast in the fourth inning. On both occasions, Freeman's homers were Atlanta's first hit of the ballgame.
Freeman later added a run-scoring single in the Braves' four-run fifth-inning rally.
Atlanta’s eruption continued a rough 24 hours for the Dodgers. After watching their bullpen melt down in the ninth inning of Game 1, the Dodgers got more bad news when Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his scheduled Game 2 start after experiencing back spasms.
Kershaw’s absence opened the door for Tony Gonsolin to make his postseason debut. The 26-year-old right-hander responded with a strong start, retiring the first nine batters he faced. However, the Braves were able to quickly adjust, going 3-for-7 with a home run, double and three walks against Gonsolin from that point on.
Though it wasn’t the utter dominance we’ve seen previously in the postseason, Atlanta’s pitching set the tone by holding the Dodgers loaded lineup in check until the late innings. Despite walking five batters in four innings, Braves starter Ian Anderson extended his personal postseason scoreless streak to 15 2/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander struck out five.
Things got far more interesting in the later innings. The Dodgers scored three runs in the seventh on Corey Seager’s home run and then brought the winning run to the plate in a four-run ninth. Closer Mark Melancon barely closed the door, getting A.J. Pollock to ground out with Cody Bellinger standing 90 feet away.
The game may have looked different had the Dodgers cashed in on a first-inning scoring chance. But thanks to the handy glove work of third baseman Austin Riley and the fancy footwork of Gold Glove first baseman Freddie Freeman, they could not.
The Dodgers will try to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole in Game 3 on Wednesday.
With Clayton Kershaw already ruled out, the start will go to 24-year-old left-hander Julio Urías. It's a change of pace for Urías, who has been used almost exclusively as a reliever in his past postseason appearances. This will only be his second October start compared to 13 outings out of the bullpen. During the 2020 regular season, Urías made 10 starts and posted 3.27 ERA.
Atlanta will counter with Kyle Wright. The 25-year-old right-hander shut out the Marlins for six innings in NLDS Game 3 and has allowed just two runs over his last three starts dating back to Sept. 20. This will be Wright's first career start against the Dodgers.
First pitch of Game 3 is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET Wednesday with TV coverage on FS1.
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