Seager powers Dodgers to victory over Braves; Game 7 is tonight
By Stephen Hawkins
AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas — Corey Seager homered again, Walker
Buehler pitched six scoreless innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers pushed the NL Championship Series to Game 7 with a 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
The Dodgers avoided elimination for the second time in less than 24 hours, and now have a winner-take-all game tonight to try to get to their third World Series in four years. They haven’t won a championship since 1988.
Seager, a former Northwest Cabarrus standout who also played for the Kannapolis Legion team, has been stellar in the postseason. In Game 5 on Friday night, he hit two home runs, and now has the NLCS record and the most for a shortstop in any postseason series. “Just kind of putting good swings on pitches and everything is kind of clicking,” Seager said.
Seager holds NLCS records with five homers and 11 RBIs. His six homers overall are already a Dodgers postseason record.
Max Fried took his first loss all year for the Braves, who were trying to celebrate manager Brian Snitker’s 65th birthday with the franchise’s first World Series since 1999. But the young left-hander worked into the seventh without allowing another run after LA’s three-run first.
“Shoot, we’ll go out there and let ’er fly. A Game 7 is another baseball game,” Snitker said. “It’s not fourth-and-1 and let me get the first down. It’s a baseball game. You have to treat it as such.”
The Braves are going with rookie right-hander Ian Anderson tonight. He has thrown 15 2/3 scoreless innings in his three postseason starts. The Dodgers could go with Tony Gonsolin or give the ball to Clayton Kershaw on short rest, but no decision was made Saturday.
Justin Turner also homered for the NL West champions, and Kenley Jansen threw a six-pitch ninth for his 18th career postseason save.
It was Jansen’s first save chance in five appearances since closing out the Dodgers’ first playoff win this season in the wild-card round. He struck out the side on 12 pitches in Friday night’s 7-3 win.
“Two huge outings, not only for us, but him personally, you can just see the confidence he has on the mound attacking guys,” Turner said. “That’s the Kenley Jansen I and all of us in there all know and love.”
Fried allowed only two homers in his 11 starts while going 7-0 during the regular season, but the Dodgers went deep twice in three pitches in the first.
Seager pulled a towering shot to right on a 73-mph curveball, and Turner connected on a 93-mph sinker that went 418 feet to straightaway center. Max Muncy walked and scored after back-to-back singles by Will Smith and Cody Bellinger.
Mookie Betts, the 2018 AL MVP and first-year Dodger, made a leaping catch against the right field wall to end the fifth. While it wouldn’t have been a homer, it robbed Marcell Ozuna of extra bases, and the Braves a likely run.
It was a much different result than Buehler’s postseason debut two years ago in Game 3 of the NL Division Series, when the Braves also loaded the bases against him in the second inning. After a walk drove in a run, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a grand slam on the next pitch for a 5-0 lead.
With Buehler out of Saturday’s game, Nick Markakis greeted Blake Treinen with triple to right leading off the seventh and came home on a one-out double by Acuña.
The Dodgers are playing in a Game 7 for the third time in four years. They beat Milwaukee 5-1 in the deciding game of the 2018 NLCS, after losing 5-1 to the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Atlanta hasn’t played in a Game 7 since its 15-0 win over St. Louis in the 1996 NLCS.