Braves take first game of NLCS rematch with 3-2 home victory against Dodgers
ATLANTA – In some circles, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves were always on a National League Championship Series collision course. The storyline wrote itself considering the Braves needed to avenge a disappointing collapse in the NLCS last year.
The Braves were one game away from the World Series. The Dodgers needed a miracle to validate a high payroll and flux of roster talent.
Ultimately, lightning struck in the Dodgers favor. The Dodgers overcame a 3-1 series deficit and went on to win their seventh World Series.
Fast-forward to this year and there was unfinished business. On Saturday night, the Braves and Dodgers began the latest chapter in their postseason rivalry. This time, the venue swung to Truist Park as the Braves secured homefield advantage.
In front of raucous crowd, the Braves pulled out a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of the series.
The Braves scattered together timely hitting against a barrage of Dodgers pitchers. The biggest came in the ninth inning when Austin Riley drove home Ozzie Albies with an RBI single in walk-off fashion.
The Braves would manufacture offense with a bit of A-B-C baseball. Braves manager Brian Snitker shook up his lineup to combat Dodgers opener Corey Knebel.
Snitker went with left-handed Eddie Rosario to lead off the game. The strategy worked as Rosario blistered a single down the right field line. Rosario stole second base and he later scored on a wild pitch from Knebel.
It worked late with Riley providing the major blow. His RBI single was boosted by a fourth-inning home run that drew loud MVP chants.
The Dodgers refused to stay down. Chris Taylor had an RBI single in the second inning and Will Smith blasted a fourth-inning solo home run.
However, Taylor found himself on the wrong end of a late baserunning blunder. After securing a two-out walk in the ninth inning, he overran second base following a Cody Bellinger pinch-hit single.
Taylor was tagged out in a rundown to end the Dodgers threat. The Braves take advantage and pull out the victory.
The Braves offense provided just enough for starter Max Fried. The talented ace was masterful down the stretch with an ability to navigate murky waters. He ran into some trouble against the Dodgers but wiggle out of true danger.
Fried allowed the two runs but was solid in his second postseason appearance. He allowed eight hits over six innings of work. He struck out five batters and kept his team in the game.
The Braves bullpen matched his efforts. Braves reliever Tyler Matzek orchestrated a key moment in the seventh inning. Matzek worked around Taylor’s leadoff double and managed to strikeout Trea Turner much to the delight of the 41,815 fans in attendance.
The Dodgers found success with their bullpen opener. Corey Knebel pitched the first inning and surrendered a run.
The medley of bullpen arms kept the Braves at bay. After Knebel navigated the first inning, the bullpen settled down with 11 consecutive outs. The bullpen collected seven strikeouts in that span.
The Braves were off balanced at the plate for much of the game. The only real damage came Riley, who belted a solo home run in the fourth inning. Riley pulled his hands in and drilled a 92.7-mph fastball into the outfield seats.
It was Riley’s second postseason home run as he continued to cement his breakout campaign this season.
Dodgers outfielder Will Smith provided the offense for his team. Smith belted his third home run of the postseason as the Dodgers held an early 2-1 lead.
Teammates Chris Taylor and Trea Turner would play complimentary roles. Taylor went 2-for-3 and added a first-inning RBI single to get the Dodgers on the board. Turner had two singles and stolen base as he continued his success against the Braves.
Game 2 will be back at Truist Park on Sunday night. The probable pitching matchup feature Max Scherzer against Ian Anderson with first pitch scheduled for 7:38 p.m. ET.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Braves walk-off Dodgers in NLCS rematch to take Game 1