With Kershaw a scratch, Atlanta hitters go to work


ARLINGTON, Texas — Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies homered again, rookie Ian Anderson extended his postseason scoreless streak in an abbreviated start, and the Atlanta Braves just held on for an 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

Atlanta now has a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.

Freeman put the Braves ahead to stay with a two-run home run in the fourth off rookie Tony Gonsolin, who filled in after three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was scratched because of back spasms. Freeman added an RBI single as part of a four-run outburst an inning later.

Albies homered in the ninth for the second night in a row, and for the second time in a row the ball was caught in the bullpen by closer Mark Melancon. That solo shot proved huge for the Braves, who led 7-0 but nearly squandered the lead as the Dodgers scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth.

“I didn’t feel good with a big lead because these guys are too powerful, and that’s a good ballgame to win. They all are now,” Manager Brian Snitker said. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot there at the end. Melancon did a great job coming in.”

Melancon took over with two outs after Corey Seager’s RBI double and Max Muncy’s two-run homer. Albies made a fielding error on Will Smith’s grounder to second, and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger hit an RBI triple. AJ Pollock then had a groundout to end a 4-hour, 12-minute game.

Atlanta became just the fourth team in major-league history to begin a postseason 7-0. The Braves have outscored opponents 37-12.

Game 3 is tonight, with 24-year-old playoff veteran Julio Urias pitching for the Dodgers against Kyle Wright, another rookie right-hander for the Braves. There have been 14 teams take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS, and all have gone on to win the pennant.

“This team’s got a lot of fight. We’ve done it all year,” Seager said. “We were one swing, one anything away from tying that ballgame and going into extras. This is a long series. We’re looking up to the challenge.”

Freeman was hit on his right elbow by Alex Wood in the eighth and was shaken up but stayed in the game.

“Stung him pretty good and he lost feeling,” Snitker said. “But I think after he got through that inning and came back in, he got all of his strength back. He should be OK.”

Anderson allowed 1 hit and struck out 5, but also walked 5 while throwing 85 pitches in 4 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander didn’t come out for the fifth after the Braves batted around in the top of the frame, building a 6-0 lead while tying an LCS record with four walks in the inning.

“We had a good game plan, and in the playoffs you just have to keep guys from scoring and we were able to do that,” Anderson said.

The Dodgers, who had the best record in the pandemic-shortened season, trailed 7-0 until Seager’s three-run homer to greet A.J. Minter in the seventh.

Tyler Matzek, the second of seven Atlanta pitchers, worked two scoreless innings for the win.

When Kershaw was scratched in favor of a likely start later in the series, it set up the second matchup of rookie starting pitchers in a LCS.

Gonsolin’s postseason debut came 17 days after his prior game. The right-hander struck out 7 and allowed only 3 hits, but gave up 5 runs and walked 3 in 4 1/3 innings.

Freeman hit a ball more than 400 feet into the right-field seats, similar to his solo shot in Game 1, after Ronald Acuna Jr. walked leading off the fourth. Gonsolin was done when Acuna walked again in the fifth, right after an RBI double by rookie Cristian Pache.

Pedro Baez then walked two of his four batters, including Travis d’Arnaud with the bases loaded before Albies’ sacrifice fly on which Bellinger made an impressive leaping catch on the run in center.

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman hits a two-run home run during the fourth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman hits a two-run home run during the fourth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman celebrates his two-run home run with third base coach Ron Washington against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning in Game 2 Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman celebrates his two-run home run with third base coach Ron Washington against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning in Game 2 Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin leaves the game during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin leaves the game during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw watches during the fourth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw watches during the fourth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith on a double by Cristian Pache during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Atlanta Braves’ Nick Markakis scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith on a double by Cristian Pache during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson and catcher Travis d'Arnaud celebrate the end of the fourth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson and catcher Travis d’Arnaud celebrate the end of the fourth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith on a double by Cristian Pache during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Atlanta Braves’ Nick Markakis scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith on a double by Cristian Pache during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates after scoring on a walk by Travis d'Arnaud during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates after scoring on a walk by Travis d’Arnaud during the fifth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)



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