Bellinger, Betts help Dodgers rally
LOS ANGELES — Cody Bellinger keeps erasing a forgettable regular season, with his latest big swing putting the Los Angeles Dodgers right back in the NL Championship Series.
Bellinger hit a tying, three-run homer and Mookie Betts then lined an RBI double in the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally, storming back to beat Atlanta 6-5 Tuesday and cutting the Braves’ lead in the series to 2-1.
“It’s hard to remember a bigger hit, with what was at stake,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I’m kind of exhausted now.”
Some of the 51,307 fans had already left when the Dodgers were down to their final five outs and facing the daunting prospect of a 3-0 deficit in the series. Bellinger swung and missed two pitches down the middle for strikes, going to his knees in the dirt.
“Ball’s coming in hard, some shadows you’re dealing with, so I saw it well and I just tried to barrel it up,” Bellinger said. “Just continue to barrel up the ball and pass the baton.”
Bellinger drove a shoulder-high, 95.6-mph fastball from Luke Jackson into the right-field pavilion, igniting the blue towel-waving crowd and reviving the hopes of the defending World Series champions.
“Sad thing is I would do the same thing again,” Jackson said. “I was trying to throw a fastball up and away. I actually threw it better than I thought I threw it. Out of my hand, I was like, `Oh, that’s a ball. It’s too high.’ And no, it wasn’t too high. Good player, put a good swing on it and pretty remarkable.”
Chris Taylor singled, stole second and moved to third on pinch-hitter Matt Beaty’s groundout. Betts followed with the double off Jesse Chavez to right-center.
“One of our strong suits is not worrying about what happened yesterday, focusing on right now,” Betts said.
Game 4 is tonight at Dodger Stadium.
“We can do it, we’re confident,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There is going to be no residual effects after this game.”
The Dodgers had lost all 83 previous postseason games — in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn — in which they trailed by three or more runs in the eighth inning or later.
But that’s history now. And so are Bellinger’s recent struggles.
The 2019 NL MVP, Bellinger batted a miserable .165 this year with a paltry .240 on-base percentage and 94 strikeouts in 315 at-bats. He helped redeem himself last week with a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning of the decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the rival Giants at San Francisco.
“Fresh start,” Bellinger said of the postseason. “At least for me this year it’s a fresh start. You know, a tough regular season but you know, I felt good towards the end of the season, and just try to continue that feel all the way through.”
“Just you know, staying simple,” he said. “Crazy things are happening.”
Bellinger’s done this before, too. After the Dodgers overcame a 3-1 deficit against Atlanta in the NLCS last year, his tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning won Game 7.
With the cheering, chanting crowd on its feet in the ninth, Kenley Jansen struck out the side to earn the save, the ninth pitcher used by the Dodgers. They ran through a combined 15 in the first two games.
Staggered with back-to-back walk-off losses in Atlanta, the Dodgers returned home, where they’ve dominated the Braves in recent years and were an MLB-best 58-23 during the regular season.
Astros beat Sox
BOSTON — The Houston Astros scored seven runs in the top of the ninth inning and beat the Boston Red Sox, 9-2, in Game 4 of the ALCS late Tuesday to even the series at 2-2.