Atlanta claps back with offensive outburst of its own to put Dodgers on ropes
Los Angeles 1 loss away from elimination after allowing 10 runs in Game 5 defeat
Atlanta turned things around in a hurry, and now are one win from ending a two-decade World Series drought.
Marcell Ozuna homered twice, rookie right-hander Bryse Wilson made his post-season debut by outpitching a three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and Atlanta bounced back from a lopsided loss with a rout of their own, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Thursday night.
"Feels good, feels really good," manager Brian Snitker said. "Still have a lot of work to do, you know how quick things can turn. I was really proud of the guys, how they bounced back."
Atlanta took a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series, a night after a 15-3 loss and will try to reach its first World Series since 1999 when it plays Game 5 Friday night.
Atlanta became the first team in MLB history to have back-to-back games in a single post-season where they lost by at least eight runs and then won by at least eight runs, according to STATS.
Dustin May, the 23-year-old Texan who has thrown 4 2-3 scoreless innings in three appearances this post-season, will start for the Dodgers with them facing potential elimination. Atlanta will likely go with a bullpen day.
Ozuna had four hits and drove in four runs. It was tied 1-1 in the sixth when the Atlanta scored six times, with MVP candidate Freddie Freeman hitting a tiebreaking double and Ozuna following with an RBI double that chased Kershaw.
A night after the Dodgers had a record 11-run first, they managed only one hit — a solo homer by Edwin Rios — over six innings against the 22-year-old Wilson.
"He was in complete control. ... He had a really good look about him. He had good tempo, and the stuff was live," Snitker said. "It was huge, a huge effort by him."
Ronald Acuna Jr. led off the decisive six-run sixth with an infield single on a play that ended with him, Kershaw and second baseman Kike Hernandez all on the ground. They all took tumbles because of their effort, and weren't knocked down by the sometimes bothersome breezy conditions in the new Texas ballpark with the roof open.
Kershaw fell down after coming off the mound while reaching up to try to field the high chopper. Hernandez went to the ground after grabbing the ball and making a sidearm throw then went wide while Acuna tumbled after passing the base and landed awkwardly on his left wrist that was irritated twice during the regular season. Acuna went to second base because of the errant throw after being tended to for several moments.
After trying glasses in the field and getting eyedrops early in the game, Freeman apparently had no problems seeing when he doubled home Acuna for a 2-1 lead before Ozuna followed with another double. Reliever Brusdar Graterol got the first out before giving up three consecutive hits, including Dansby Swanson's two-run double and Austin Riley's RBI single. Rookie centre fielder Cristian Pache capped the inning with an RBI single made it 7-1.
"They're similar to us as far as they build on momentum really well," Kershaw said. "It just seems like they have that domino effect when one thing gets going. They just continue to build on that. And they've got great hitters, too."
Freeman and Ozuna each added RBI singles in the eighth.
"They've pitched really well. You've got go give those guys credit," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "When we did hit the ball hard ... we just didn't find any luck. That's baseball. You've got to give credit to that guy."
Kershaw, scratched from his scheduled start in Game 2 two days earlier because of back spams, struck out four, walked one and allowed four runs on seven hits in five-plus innings. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is now 11-12 with 4.31 ERA in post-season, as opposed to his 175-76 record and 2.43 ERA in the regular season during his 13 years in the big leagues.