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Surprising Braves up 2-0 on Dodgers

The Associated Press

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 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.

“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 one hit and struck out five, but walked five in four innings .

Greinke likes fan-less game

SAN DIEGO — Houston Astros pitcher Zack Greinke said he’s enjoyed playing games without fans during the pandemic-shortened season and in the playoffs.

“I don’t really notice fans when the game’s going on, but warming up and practice before games, I mean for me it’s nice not having fans in the stands,” Greinke said Tuesday before Game 3 of the AL Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. “Most people like it. When the game comes on it’s the same for me.”

Asked to explain, he said: “Because then there’s no one there to talk to you and ask for autographs and want pictures and all that stuff. I don’t like to do that stuff. It’s nice not having them, for me. Most people like it. I don’t like it.”

Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner with Kansas City, discussed during spring training in 2013 that he had social anxiety disorder since before high school but no longer considered it a problem. He did not mention anxiety on Tuesday.

Some fans are being allowed to NL Championship Series games in Arlington, Texas, and will be for the World Series, as well. The announced attendance was 10,700 for Monday’s NLCS opener between Atlanta and the Los Angeles Dodgers,.

Greinke is scheduled to start Game 4 tonight. The Rays took a 2-0 lead into Tuesday night’s game. Fans weren’t allowed in for the AL Division Series against Oakland at Dodger Stadium or the ALCS at Petco Park in San Diego.

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