Freeman, Albies HR again, Braves hang on for 2-0 NLCS lead

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Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, right, celebrates his two-run home run with teammate Ronald Acuna (13) 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)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — 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 and a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.

Freeman put the Braves ahead to stay with a two-run homer 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 near squandered the lead as the Dodgers scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Melacon came on 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 hit a game-ending 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 Wednesday night, with 24-year-old playoff veteran Julio Urías 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.

Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies homered again, rookie Ian Anderson extended his postseason scoreless streak in an abbreviated start and the Atlanta Braves held on for an 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

Freeman put the Braves ahead to stay with a two-run homer 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, both into the Atlanta bullpen where closer Mark Melancon again caught the ball. And that solo shot proved huge since the Dodgers scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Melacon came on with two outs after Corey Seager’s RBI double and Max Muncy’s two-run homer. Second baseman Albies then had a fielding error on Will Smith’s grounder before reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger hit an RBI triple. AJ Pollock then grounded out to end the game.

Game 3 is Wednesday night, 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.

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

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

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.

Only seven weeks after his big league debut with the Braves, Anderson has pitched 15 2/3 scoreless innings and is only the second pitcher in major league history to start his postseason career not allowing a run in three consecutive starts of at least four innings. The other was Hall of Fame right-hander Christy Mathewson, who threw three shutouts in the 1905 World Series for the New York Giants.

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 seven and allowed only three hits, but gave up five runs and walked three 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, in the lineup after Adam Duvall was removed from Atlanta’s NLCS roster because of a left oblique injury sustained in the series opener.

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.

STREAKING

Atlanta matched the 1976 Cincinnati Reds and 2007 Colorado Rockies, one behind the record eight in a row by the 2014 Kansas City Royals — only the Reds went on to win the World Series

SHORT HOPS

Dansby Swanson had an ground-rule double with two outs in the Braves seventh, with only run scoring instead of two when the ball bounced over the wall. … The four walks in an inning were the first in an NLCS since San Francisco against the Chicago Cubs in 1989. … The announced paid attendance was 10,624, which accounted for every ticket made available to the general public in only the second MLB game this season with fans.

BRAVES GOING DEEP

Freeman was the first player to homer in Games 1 and 2 of an NLCS since Daniel Murphy when the New York Mets swept the Chicago Cubs in 2005. … Freeman and Albies joined Swanson and d’Arnaud by homering in back-to-back Braves games this postseason. Swanson and d’Arnaud both went deep in the first two games of the NLDS against Miami.

UP NEXT

Braves: Wright threw six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in his postseason debut in the clinching Game 3 of the NL Division Series against Miami. The 25-year-old was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Vanderbilt.

Dodgers: Urías, already pitching in his fourth postseason, was the winner in the NLDS Game 3 clincher. He allowed only one hit and an unearned run over five innings against San Diego last Thursday after being the third LA pitcher in that game.

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