Dodgers vs. Brewers score: Milwaukee forces Game 7 after early offensive explosion in NLCS Game 6

The Dodgers got a quick lead in Game 6 of the NLCS, but it was short lived. The Brewers would rally in the first inning for four runs. They had to fight and the Dodgers didn't let them run away with the game -- in fact, they had two chances with the tying run at the plate in the fifth inning -- but it never got overly dicey for the Brewers. They won 7-2. That sets the table for a Game 7 on Saturday night.  

Here are some of the most important things to know about Game 6. 

Freese immediately put Dodgers up

It didn't take long to see a number on the board. In only the fourth time of his career to start in the leadoff spot, Dodgers first baseman David Freese announced his presence with authority

Boom. Just like that, it was 1-0 Dodgers and it felt like the air got sucked out of Miller Park. 

Things were a bit different by the end of the inning, though. Newfound villain Manny Machado struck out much to the delight of the Brewers faithful and the fun carried over ...

Brewers finally come through in the clutch

The Brewers got four runs in the first and another in the second. Of note in particular is that the first inning runs all came with two outs. When Travis Shaw struck out with two on and one out, this had an ominously familiar feel from the Brewers' point of view, as they had been awful in situational hitting in the series, for the most part. Here's a game-by-game of how they performed with runners in scoring position and how many men were left on base. 

  • Game 1: 2-11 RISP, 8 LOB
  • Game 2: 0-5 RISP, 5 LOB
  • Game 3: 1-6 RISP, 6 LOB
  • Game 4: 0-8 RISP, 10 LOB
  • Game 5: 2-5 RISP, 4 LOB

So that's 5 for 35 (.143) with a truckload of runners left on base this series. The problem in Game 5 was more the lack of baserunners, but they did have runners on second and third with one out for Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Jesus Aguilar and fail to get the runners home. 

In Game 6, though, Aguilar started a two-out hit parade for the Brewers, coming through with a two-RBI double. Mike Moustakas followed with a lefty-on-lefty double and then Erik Kratz would single Moustakas home. 

That had to feel like a huge weight lifted off the collective chests of the offensive players. Orlando Arcia and Lorenzo Cain also singled in the inning while Ryan Braun walked. 

Something important happened in the second inning, too. Yelich doubled. He was 3 for 21 with zero extra-base hits before that in the NLCS. If the Brewers are going to keep playing, they need the soon-to-be-named MVP to play like one

Both instances of good news proved to be temporary. The Brewers ended up going 5 for 16 with RISP and leaving 11 men on base. Yelich didn't get a hit other than the double. Still, baby steps! And they won. That's always good. 

Ryu easily had his worst outing of the year

In 15 regular-season starts, Hyun-Jin Ryu had a 1.97 ERA. In 11 1/3 postseason innings, he had previously given up two runs. 

He gave up five earned runs on seven hits in just three innings of work. He also walked two. 

Ryu didn't even allow more than three earned runs in a single start this season. Here's his breakdown of runs allowed per start, including the postseason: 

3 ER: Three times
2 ER: Four times
1 ER: Three times
0 ER: Seven times

The Brewers were crushing his curveball by staying back on it. They were seeing it far too well and he paid for it. As a result, the Brewers were able to set the game up the way they wanted. 

Big decision results in Knebel's first at-bat since high school

Despite a 5-1 lead through two innings, the Brewers needed to get Corey Knebel in for two high-leverage outs in the fifth inning. He didn't work overly hard, so the plan for Craig Counsell was to get another inning out of him. As such, when the Brewers got two runners on base with two outs, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts intentionally walked Arcia to get to Knebel. For a second, it looked like Counsell's ace pinch hitter, Domingo Santana, would be used. Instead, Knebel took the at-bat. 

Not surprisingly, he struck out. In fact, with two strikes, Dodgers reliever Alex Wood decided not to mess around and threw a breaking ball. Knebel didn't look great (I will be nice) and he even could be seen kind of laughing about it. 

Knebel would then reward Counsell with a scoreless sixth. 

Battle of the bullpens

There has been lots of focus on the Brewers bullpen in this series and that's with great reason. The Dodgers' relief corps this postseason, though, had been incredible. Heading into Game 6, the Dodgers relievers had pitched to a 1.11 ERA in a whopping 32 1/3 innings. That's the dominance we expected from the Brewers. 

In Game 6, the Dodgers' bullpen was able to get through three scoreless innings and keep it close. 

It was especially important in this game that they kept the Brewers off the board for a bit. In keeping the game close, that meant Counsell had to use Knebel for 1 2/3 innings, Jeremy Jeffress for an inning and Corbin Burnes for two. That's something to watch heading to Game 7. If some the Brewers big guns are gassed, we have to retroactively credit the bullpen to keeping Game 6 close. 

However ...

No Hader

The insurance runs scored in the seventh and eighth innings are the reason why Counsell didn't use ace lefty Josh Hader. Hader now hasn't pitched since Game 4 and he'll be on three days' rest for Game 7. We've seen him go north of 40 pitches in a three-inning outing in this series. He now becomes perhaps the biggest X-factor for the Brewers in Game 7. If starter Jhoulys Chacin is able to throw well through six innings, Hader might well finish the thing. 

The insurance runs can be blamed on the Dodgers, too. One scored on a wild pitch with two outs and the other could have been avoided. Brian Dozier couldn't get a double-play ball out of his glove at the turn to end the eighth. The next batter was Aguilar and he came through with an RBI single. 

Game 7 coming Saturday

Now with the series knotted at three games apiece, it all comes down to Game 7 and that's such a beautiful phrase. This has been an outstanding series with lots of "wow" moments. We'll likely see a few more. The game will be on FS1 again, this time at 8:09 p.m. ET, which is 7:09 in Milwaukee. You can stream it on fuboTV (Try for free). It's also a Saturday, so they'll be out tailgating in the Miller Park parking lot in full force for hours. 

The Brewers haven't been to the playoffs since 2011. The Dodgers have been for six straight years now. In winner-take-all games (Game 5 in NLDS or Game 7 in the next two rounds), they have gone 1-2. Last season, they were 0-1 and that was the World Series. They did win Game 6 to stay alive. 

Does any of this matter? I'd say probably not, but this is a "to each his own" part. Some people think it does and it might matter. 

This is, thankfully and finally, the first winner-take-all game since the wild-card round.

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CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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