Braves vs. Dodgers score: Atlanta takes 2-0 NLCS lead as Eddie Rosario's walk-off caps comeback win

The Atlanta Braves eked out a second straight walk-off win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in NLCS Game 2 on Sunday night, this one by a score of 5-4 (box score). As a result, Atlanta now leads the best-of-seven series 2-0. In Saturday's Game 1, Austin Riley provided the walk-off single in the ninth. On Sunday it was Eddie Rosario who broke a 4-4 tie with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with his own walk-off single off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.

It was a scorcher off Rosario's bat, which is probably why Corey Seager wasn't charged with an error on the play. Here's Rosario's game-winning hit:

Game 2 was a tense and back-and-forth affair from the very start. The Dodgers struck first with a two-run home run from Seager in the opening frame. That score held until the fourth, when Joc Pederson, starting again in right in place of Jorge Soler (COVID-19 related injured list), hit a booming home run off Max Scherzer to tie the score at 2-2.

The Dodgers reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh thanks to a well-placed bloop hit by Chris Taylor that plated two runs. Taylor's hit scooted under the glove of center fielder Guillermo Heredia, who had just been double-switched into the game in place of Adam Duvall: 

Normally a sure glove in center, Heredia appeared to get caught trying to decide whether to dive for the ball or pull up to field it on the hop. If not for Pederson's hustling over from right to back up Heredia, more runs could've been on the board. 

Those potential runs mattered, as the Braves in the eighth mounted a comeback against Julio Urías, who was pitching in relief just three days after working four innings in Game 5 of the NLDS.

The Braves scored two in the frame thanks in large measure to some bold base-running and more specifically a pair of bold sends by third-base coach Ron Washington. The first sent Rosario home on a hit to shallow right moments after Rosario at great peril tagged up and took second on a fly ball: 

Soon after, Washington waved Ozzie Albies home from first on a double by Riley, the Game 1 hero, to tie the score: 

Reliever Will Smith kept the Dodgers off the board in the top of the ninth -- although Trea Turner very nearly hit a go-ahead solo home run -- to set up the walk-off in the home half. 

Now for some additional takeaways from a wild Game 2 in Atlanta. 

Scherzer wasn't quite himself

Dodgers co-ace Max Scherzer had been a consideration to start NLCS Game 1, but lingering fatigue from his efforts in the NLDS -- he threw 110 pitches in Game 3 against the Giants and then picked up the series-clinching save on two-days' rest -- prompted Dave Roberts to push him to Game 2. 

Scherzer, as has been the case for the last several starts, lacked vintage command, but he was able to ride his stuff to effective results. That held until the fourth inning, when Scherzer was rudely reminded that the calendar still reads Joctober: 

That's Pederson's third homer of the 2021 postseason and his 12th career playoff home run. At 454 feet and 112.2 mph off the bat, it's also one of the longest and hardest home runs Scherzer has ever allowed. In the end, Scherzer in Game 2 allowed two runs on four hits in 4 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. That he seemed oddly agreeable when Roberts removed him in the fifth says Scherzer has been feeling the effects of all those recent high-leverage pitches. 

He confirmed his arm was feeling "dead" after the game:

Ian Anderson's first-inning woes continued

During the regular season, Anderson had an ERA of 6.38 in the first inning with six home runs allowed in 24 of those first innings. Compare that to his overall 2021 ERA of 3.58. 

While Anderson didn't stick with that particular script in his NLDS start against the Brewers -- he allowed no runs -- he did get bitten by the first-inning bug in NLCS Game 2 on Sunday night. To lead off the game, Mookie Betts dumped a single into left for his 13th hit of the 2021 postseason, and that brought Corey Seager to the dish. Seager ambushed a first-pitch breaking ball from Anderson and hit it out for a 2-0 Dodger lead: 

Really, Anderson is lucky the opening frame didn't go worse for him. He walked a pair in the first, and Chris Taylor just missed a two-run shot down the left field line (it was barely foul). As well, Cody Bellinger had a nicely struck humpback liner to center, but it was right at Adam Duvall. 

Also true to form, Anderson rebounded in the second. During the regular season, that lofty first-inning ERA tumbled to a 3.00 mark in the second. In Game 2, he authored a three-up-three-down second frame. That first inning, though, gave the Dodgers a 68.2 percent chance of winning Game 2. 

Freddie Freeman's struggles continued

The Braves' best pure hitter went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts in Game 1 against the Dodgers. Then in Game 2 the reigning NL MVP struck out in his first three trips to the plate. That occasioned this bit of unfortunate personal history:

In his final trip to the plate in Game 2, Freeman flew out to break the strikeout streak, but he's still 0 for 8 for the series. Perhaps more troubling is that his bat looks perceptibly slow on fastballs, even fastballs in the meat of the zone. 

The Dodgers are facing steep odds

Throughout the long history of best-of-seven postseason series in MLB, teams up 2-0, as the Braves are, go on to win the series 83.9 percent of the time. The numbers are similar when the team up 2-0 opens the series at home -- they go on to win the series 82.8 percent of the time. 

In essence this makes Game 3 on Tuesday a must-win for the Dodgers. The good news for L.A. is that teams heading home after being down 0-2 in a best-of-seven have won Game 3 more than 60 percent of the time. If the Dodgers are their rooters are looking for hope, there it is. 

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October 18, 2021, 3:37 AM

Urías picked off one runner all year. Buster Posey.


Rosario made it. Beautiful slide. 

October 18, 2021, 3:03 AM

might be a review situation here. It was ridiculously close

October 18, 2021, 3:02 AM

Ozzie Albies singles to right and Ron Washington at third base with an incredibly aggressive send. Rosario made it. 4-3 Dodgers

October 18, 2021, 3:02 AM

graphic just flashed on the screen, the Dodgers are 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position in his series. The Chris Taylor hit just happened, too. 

October 18, 2021, 3:02 AM
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