ATLANTA — The 106-win Dodgers from the regular season have met their match in these resilient Braves of the NL Least.
For a second straight night, walk-off magic was in vogue for the Braves, this time with Eddie Rosario swarmed as he rounded first base and Dansby Swanson touching the plate with the winning run in a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS at Truist Park.
Rosario smacked Kenley Jansen’s first pitch off Corey Seager’s glove in the ninth inning, sending the series to Los Angeles with the Braves ahead 2-0. The Braves also won the first two games of the NLCS last year against the Dodgers before losing in Game 7.
Travis d’Arnaud started the winning rally with a broken-bat single against Brusdar Graterol. After Swanson’s sacrifice bunt attempt produced an out at second base, Guillermo Heredia was retired, with the runner advancing. Jansen entered, and Rosario’s fourth hit of the night ended it.
“This is something, we all have that dream, that desire to get to the World Series,” said Rosario, a trade deadline acquisition who helped the Braves overcome the loss of Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The Braves won only 88 games during the regular season — the fewest victories of any division winner — but remade the club with the additions of Rosario, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall at the trade deadline and rallied to win a fourth straight NL East title.
Austin Riley smashed an RBI double in the eighth against Julio Urias that tied it 4-4 after the Braves had chipped away at the Dodgers’ lead moments earlier — with a daring send by third-base coach Ron Washington, who waved home Rosario from second on Ozzie Albies’ single. Rosario’s left hand touched the plate just ahead of Will Smith’s tag. Riley, who delivered a walk-off RBI single in Game 1, followed with his latest big hit.
“This is a team where you better not leave early,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s not leave in the fourth quarter when the team is down, because you will end up missing the best part of the game and listen to it on your radio when you are driving home. These guys just keep playing the game. They play a hard 27 [outs].”
Chris Taylor’s two-run double in the seventh snapped a 2-2 tie, giving the Dodgers a short-lived lead. With the bases loaded Taylor hit a bloop to center on which Heredia attempted a shoestring catch, and the ball bounced behind him, ensuring the second run.
Pederson launched a hanging curveball from Max Scherzer for a 454-foot homer in the fourth that tied it 2-2 and brought life to a previously muted sellout crowd that had watched the Braves fall behind at the start. Pederson’s homer was his third this postseason and just the second all year surrendered by Scherzer on a curveball. The rally started with a walk to Riley, who has helped carry the lineup with Freddie Freeman in a rut that included seven strikeouts to begin the series before he flied out in the eighth.
“There is no one person that has the pressure on their shoulders that they have to get the job done,” Pederson said. “It’s a new person every day and that’s what makes it special.”
Scherzer was removed after 4 ¹/₃ innings and two earned runs allowed on four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. The ace right-hander had been pushed back a day after working a scoreless ninth for the save in Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday in San Francisco. Alex Vesia entered and surrendered a single to Rosario before striking out Freeman and Albies in succession to end the inning.
“[Scherzer] sort of hit a wall and after that fourth inning he said he was starting to feel it a little bit,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Seager’s two-run homer just two batters into the game had put the Braves in a 2-0 hole. Ian Anderson allowed a leadoff single to Mookie Betts and Seager jumped on a first-pitch slider for his 12th career postseason homer.
But the Dodgers missed an opportunity to inflict further damage in the inning. Will Smith and Taylor each walked, but Cody Bellinger — the seventh batter of the inning — was retired for the final out.
Anderson was removed after only three innings in which he allowed two earned runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts. The right-hander entered with a 0.76 ERA in five career postseason starts.
“It just wasn’t his day,” Snitker said. “It wasn’t coming out good. The location wasn’t good. We just had to start audibilizing. Everything got pushed up about three innings.”