Dodgers vs. Braves score: L.A. wins dramatic Game 7 to complete NLCS comeback, advance to World Series
The Dodgers have won their third NL pennant in four years
The Los Angeles Dodgers came away National League champions for the third time in the last four seasons after beating the Atlanta Braves in a dramatic NLCS Game 7 on Sunday night. It was a back-and-forth game with several huge moments, including players stepping up with big-time plays and others with dubious decision-making. In the end, the Dodgers won the game (and the series), 4-3.
The Game 7 win was the third in a row for the Dodgers, who came back from a 3-1 series deficit to capture the pennant. They'll meet the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.
Here are some of the main things to know and takeaways from the game.
The Bellinger Big Blow
The Dodgers hadn't had a lead all night. The game was tied a few different times. It was a tie game in the bottom of the seventh with each team having only a precious few outs left. Who was going to be the hero? Cody Bellinger stepped up with the thunderous blow:
That was off Chris Martin, who had allowed just one home run in 24 2/3 innings in the regular season and postseason combined before Sunday. He had been nearly untouchable all season, but Bellinger turned him around.
The Dodgers never let go of their first lead and are now headed to the World Series. The game unfolded in dramatic fashion pretty much throughout. We'll sort of run through chronologically now.
The Braves struck first and second
The Dodgers decided to use Dustin May as their opener and the start wasn't quite what they hoped. He walked the first two hitters and then Marcell Ozuna singled home Ronald Acuna to give the Braves a 1-0 lead before the Dodgers even batted. May did get out of the inning quickly thereafter, thanks to a double play and strikeout, but I still don't think one could call the venture a success.
In the second inning, Dansby Swanson produced quite the loud noise:
Just like that, it was 2-0 Braves.
Anderson was in and out of trouble
There was two-out trouble in the second for Ian Anderson, the Braves' rookie starter. After two pretty loud outs, Anderson gave up back-to-back singles to A.J. Pollock and Joc Pederson and then the count ran to 3-2 against Chris Taylor with Mookie Betts looming on deck for the possible bases-loaded situation. Anderson got Taylor swinging on a beautiful change to the bottom of the strike zone.
Still, the hard contact was a precursor of what was to come in the next inning. A two-out walk to Justin Turner was followed by a Max Muncy double and then a game-tying, two-RBI single from Will Smith. It was a brand new ballgame, as they say.
Braves strike back, but baserunning blunder hurts
The Braves immediately grabbed the lead right back, but that's not what we'll remember about Game 7's top of the fourth inning. With a 3-2 lead, runners on second and third and no out, Nick Markakis hit a hard grounder right at Justin Turner at third base. And what followed was ... well, this utter nonsense:
Sure, give the Dodgers credit for the defense, but what in the world was Austin Riley doing? If you're gonna try to take third base, it has to happen during the rundown. Why was he around halfway between the bases during the rundown? Even if he tried to go back to second he'd have been thrown out. Just terrible without even getting into Swanson moving on contact with a grounder to third and no out.
The Braves would lose by one run.
Betts robbed Freeman
In the top of the fifth inning, Freddie Freeman looked like he might have a home run, but five-tool superstar Mookie Betts struck again with the impressive theft.
He robbed Marcell Ozuna of extra bases against that wall in Game 6, but this time Freeman got the Betts treatment.
As it would turn out, we can pin this loss from the Braves' perspective on the baserunning mistake and the Betts' robbery.
Hernandez tied it
Enrique Hernandez tied the game with a no-doubt solo shot in the bottom of the sixth.
Per MLB stats, that was the third game-tying home run in the sixth inning or later in a Game 7 in MLB history. Some might remember Del Crandall in the 1958 World Series, but I'm going to guess Rajai Davis in the 2016 World Series is the high-profile example here.
Anyway, this cleared the way for Bellinger's bomb to put the Dodgers in the driver's seat.
Urias closes things down
The Dodgers apparently didn't tell Dustin May he was starting Game 7 until about 1:00 p.m. local time for a 7:15 start. He wasn't great. Tony Gonsolin was the "length" guy after the opener and he gave up two runs on two hits and three walks in two innings. After that, though? Blake Treinen (with the help of the Braves' baserunning and an assist by Betts, yes), Brusdar Graterol and Julio Urias combined for six hitless, scoreless innings. Urias went three perfect innings to close things down. What an effort by those three, but especially him.
Dodgers still looking for ring
For the third time in the last four seasons, the Dodgers have secured the NL pennant. Despite that and having been to the playoffs eight straight years, this group is still seeking its elusive first ring. They'll start their attempt to rectify this situation Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, who won Game 7 in the ALCS Saturday night in San Diego against the Astros. The Dodgers get the benefit of not needing travel, as the World Series remains in the same venue as the NLCS, Arlington's Globe Life Field.
As for the Braves, not that this would be of any consolation right now, but there's no shame in losing to this team that was 48-17 (playoffs included) heading into this series. The Braves got this far with basically only two surefire starting pitchers and they'll get ace Mike Soroka back next year. They have the type of talented and young nucleus to feel confident that the best is yet to come in Atlanta.
CBS Sports provided live updates throughout Game 7. You can find those below.
First time since 2013 the teams with the best records in each league will meet in the World Series.
So in a 60-game season with a 16-team postseason field that was ripe for weirdness, the two No. 1 seeds will meet in the World Series. Go figure.
Riley flew out. That's game. Dodgers win and advance.
Swanson grounded out
Braves down to their final two outs now.
Albies was up 2-0 there. Ends up grounding out to the shortstop.
Melancon escapes. Urias coming back out for the ninth.
Dodgers are threatening after a Betts double.
Urias is an out from sitting down the middle of the order without allowing a baserunner.
Bellinger may have hurt his shoulder during the home run celebration. https://twitter.com/BillyHeyen...
assuming he throws well this inning, I'd think about just leaving Urias for the ninth
Braves have the middle of the order up this inning. This is the real save situation.
Thinking back to the Braves' double TOOTBLAN.
Dodgers are now 76.2 percent to win Game 7.
These two teams have been pimping homers and flipping bats and do all sorts of stuff and ... no one cares? Neither side is complaining or anything. It's pretty awesome.
He saw the memes.
and ... boom goes the dynamite
He definitely did not miss that one.
2-2, my bad.
Last year Bellinger puts that 3-2 fastball in the upper deck. Lordy.
also I'm sure being close to where he grew up will fuel some extra adrenaline
To be fair, he got just one out last inning. He's at eight pitches.
Chris Martin back out for a second inning. He's pitched in Games 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 this series.
one of the most entertaining games ever was WS Game 5 in 2017 and it ended at like 2 a.m. eastern on a Monday morning
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