Atlanta 3, LA Dodgers 2
When: 8:08 PM ET, Saturday, October 16, 2021
Where: Truist Park, Cumberland, Georgia
Tripp Gibson III, 1B -
Jerry Meals, 2B -
James Hoye, 3B -
Mark Carlson, LF -
Lance Barksdale, RF -
In a series in which they are deemed to have few advantages, the Atlanta Braves demonstrated they might have an important one Saturday night -- baserunning.
Moments after the Los Angeles Dodgers had the potential go-ahead run thrown out on the bases to end the top of the ninth inning, Braves speedster Ozzie Albies singled, stole second and scampered home on Austin Riley's walk-off single, giving the Braves a 3-2 win over the visiting Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
In a game that featured one home run apiece and two baserunners apiece in a 2-2 game in the ninth, the Dodgers' miscue on the bases and a Braves' daredevil theft proved to be the difference in the opener of the best-of-seven series.
The outcome-determining sequence began when Braves closer Will Smith (1-0) walked Chris Taylor with two outs in the ninth.
Cody Bellinger followed with a single to right, a ball hit softly enough that Taylor initially thought he had a chance to make it to third. But he changed his mind about one-third of the way there and was tagged out in a rundown to end the inning.
"By the book, he should probably have stayed (at second)," admitted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, alluding to the popular baseball axiom to never make the third out at third base. "He thought he had a good read on it.
"You gotta pick. You either gotta go hard or you hold up and give Mookie (Betts) a shot with two outs. He got caught in between. That's when you get in trouble."
After Blake Treinen (0-1), the eighth Dodgers pitcher on a night when their top three starters were not available, struck out Freddie Freeman to open the last of the ninth, Albies blooped a single to center, setting up an obvious steal situation.
"Yeah, right away," Albies said afterward when asked if he knew he'd be trying to steal. "I'm pretty sure they knew I was going. He (Treinen) peeked over and then I was on my way."
Almost literally before the dust had settled on Albies' successful slide into second, Riley came through with his game-winner down the left-field line.
"I looked over at Wash," Riley said, referring to third base coach Ron Washington, "and he said, ‘Base hit. That's all you need.' That was my mind-set: Just put the ball in play."
It didn't take Riley long to understand the significance of his hit.
"That's huge," he said of the win. "Having to go there to play three (Games 3-5), it was imperative to win at least one (of two at home), hopefully two (Game 2 on Sunday) and get a good start on the series."
Each team used a solo home run to contribute to the 2-2 tie that lasted into the ninth.
The teams traded early runs -- Atlanta scoring on a Corey Knebel wild pitch in the first inning, Los Angeles getting even on a Taylor RBI single in the second.
The Dodgers then got a brief upper hand when Will Smith smacked the first homer of the game, connecting off Braves starter Max Fried leading off the fourth.
As Los Angeles had done earlier, Atlanta wasted no time erasing its deficit, with Riley blasting a homer off Tony Gonsolin, the Dodgers' fourth pitcher, with two outs in the fourth.
Fried was pulled in a 2-2 tie after six innings, having allowed both Dodgers runs and eight hits. He struck out five and did not issue a walk.
Taylor and Trea Turner collected two hits apiece for the Dodgers, who went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"We just didn't get the hits that we needed," Roberts lamented after his club out-hit the Braves 10-6. "There were situational at-bats and our guys didn't come through. We just couldn't push enough runs across. It happens; it's baseball."
In his role as opener, Knebel was charged with one run on one hit in his one inning. He struck out two without a walk.
Riley and Albies had two hits apiece for the Braves, who had 14 strikeouts among their 25 outs in the game.
--Field Level Media
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