LOS ANGELES — The score heading to the bottom of the eighth inning read the same as the previous day, but this time the Braves got three quick outs. Three more followed in the ninth.
With the pixie dust Cody Bellinger cast over the Dodgers a day earlier vanished, the Braves finished their daily business, moving to the brink of their first World Series since 1999. If it sounds familiar, it’s because the Braves were in this exact spot last October.
Wednesday night they used a strong bullpen performance and four home runs for a 9-2 victory in Game 4 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium. All that’s left for the Braves, with a 3-1 lead in the series, is to finish the job that was left incomplete last year, when the Dodgers won the final three games of the NLCS before ending a World Series title drought that had dated to 1988.
Eddie Rosario smashed two homers on this night — including a three-run blast in the ninth that put the icing on this beat-down. Rosario finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs and owns a 1.248 OPS this postseason.
Only a wild comeback by the Dodgers in Game 3 has prevented this series from concluding already, with a Braves sweep. Bellinger smashed a game-tying, three-run homer in the eighth inning on Tuesday before Mookie Betts’ RBI double put the Dodgers ahead for good.
Julio Urias needed to give the Dodgers length with a bullpen game looming Thursday. The left-hander got through five innings, but allowed five earned runs on eight hits (including three solo homers) and two walks, departing after 92 pitches.
It was a second straight shaky performance from Urias, who surrendered two runs in the eighth inning of Game 2 on Sunday, allowing the Braves to tie it before they won on Rosario’s walk-off single in the ninth.
The Dodgers went hitless until the fifth, when Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger delivered consecutive singles against Drew Smyly. Chris Martin replaced Smyly and after retiring Chris Taylor surrendered a two-run single to AJ Pollock that sliced the Braves’ lead to 5-2. The left-hander Smyly gave the Braves four innings behind opener Jesse Chavez.
Albert Pujols’ pinch-hit single to start the seventh brought energy to the ballpark, but that dissipated as Justin Turner hit into a double play. Turner pulled up lame before first base, grabbing for his hamstring and departed the field with a trainer. Recently, the All-Star third baseman has been bothered by hamstring and neck discomfort.
Rosario and Adam Duvall blasted consecutive homers in the second to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. Rosario jumped on an 0-2 fastball and cleared the left-field fence. Duvall hit a full-count fastball over the center-field fence.
Freddie Freeman’s homer leading off the third extended the Braves’ lead to 3-0. Suddenly, Freeman is sizzling — he had three hits a day earlier — after beginning the series with seven straight strikeouts. But the Braves weren’t finished in the inning. Rosario ripped a two-out triple and after Duvall was intentionally walked, Joc Pederson delivered an RBI single.
Rosario’s third hit of the game, a single in the fifth, put runners on the corners before Duvall’s sacrifice fly gave the Braves a 5-0 lead. Before Rosario’s second homer of the game, in the ninth, Freeman stroked an RBI double that extended the Braves’ lead to 6-2.