Eddie Rosario smoked a single up the middle to drive in Dansby Swanson and give the Atlanta Braves their second straight walk-off win to open the National League Championship Series. Twice down two runs in Game 2, the Braves rallied to put the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers down 2-0 as the series heads to Los Angeles.
Rosario, a trade deadline acquisition who was part of GM Alex Anthopoulos' total makeover of the outfield in the wake of Ronald Acuña Jr.'s season-ending knee injury, collected four hits out of the leadoff spot in Game 2.
The Braves roared to the victory with runs in both of the final two innings. It started when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts chose to use starter Julio Urias in the eighth inning — a postseason trick he and other managers have turned to many times — but in this instance it backfired.
The lefty who last year closed the NLCS and World Series out of the bullpen inherited a 4-2 lead. Rosario led off the game-tying rally with a single, then advanced to second on an aggressive tag play. A batter later he raced all the way home from second on an Ozzie Albies single, getting the go-ahead from third-base coach Ron Washington and scoring with a slick slide around Will Smith’s tag.
Game 1 hero Austin Riley came through next, ripping a double off the wall to score Albies and tie it up.
Roberts’ decision to use Urias came a day after the Dodgers deployed eight pitchers in a bullpen game. That was precipitated by a desire to get Max Scherzer an extra day of rest after his save-earning appearance in NLDS Game 5. He allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings Sunday, exiting after just 79 pitches. After the game, he said his arm never loosened up.
Urias, meanwhile, is still on track for a Game 4 start on Wednesday, according to Roberts' postgame comments.
L.A, struck early on Corey Seager’s two-run homer in the first inning, but Joc Pederson — who has been instant offense for Atlanta this month — personally erased that deficit with a ringing shot off Scherzer in the fourth. Chris Taylor put the Dodgers ahead again in the seventh with a two-run double before the Braves’ rally against Urias.
The Braves wound up turning Game 2 into something of a bullpen game, albeit an unplanned one. Atlanta starter Ian Anderson never looked sharp, so manager Brian Snitker pulled him after three innings and used seven bullpen arms to get to the finish line. Closer Will Smith got the win after firing a perfect ninth.
The Dodgers initially turned to flamethrower Brusdar Graterol in the ninth. He allowed a single to Travis d'Arnaud, who was pulled for a pinch-runner. Swanson attempted to bunt him to second, but the Dodgers got the lead runner. Swanson eventually advanced to second on a groundout, spurring Roberts to bring in closer Kenley Jansen.
Jansen threw exactly one pitch, the one Rosario zipped through the infield and under Seager's backhanded attempt to win the game.
The 88-win Braves have put themselves in a strong position as the series shifts to Los Angeles, but you only have to look back to last season's NLCS for evidence of how hard it can be to close out the Dodgers. These Braves took a 3-1 lead over Los Angeles, only for the Dodgers to take the series in seven games.