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NLCS Game 3: Dodgers turn tables on Braves with dominant win

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor

The Los Angeles Dodgers sent a clear message in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series: "We're not dead yet!"

After falling behind the Atlanta Braves two games to none, the Dodgers stormed back with a 15-3 victory behind a postseason record 11-run first inning in Game 3. The Dodgers now have an opportunity to even the series in Game 4 on Thursday.

Perhaps this offensive explosion is something we should have seen coming. While momentum might not be a real thing in baseball, confidence and determination surely are. The Dodgers showed plenty of both in their 8-7 Game 2 loss, nearly overcoming a five-run ninth-inning deficit. Los Angeles scored four runs, only to leave Cody Bellinger standing on third base as the tying run.

Los Angeles Dodgers overwhelm the Atlanta Braves in dominant NLCS Game 3 win. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Dodgers overwhelm the Atlanta Braves in dominant NLCS Game 3 win. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In Game 3, and particularly in the first inning, the Dodgers left no loose ends. All 11 batters who reached base in the opening frame eventually scored.

The historic rally started innocently with Mookie Betts reaching on an infield single. Then it quickly snowballed on Braves starter Kyle Wright. Corey Seager and Will Smith each doubled in a run, then Joc Pederson launched a three-run home run. Edwin Rios followed with a solo home run. Only after a walk to the next batter, Chris Taylor, did Wright's nightmare start finally end.

And then the rally picked right up again against reliever Grant Dayton.

Eventually, Max Muncy capped the inning with a grand slam.

Cody Bellinger added a solo home run in the second and Corey Seager — who finished a triple shy of the cycle — homered in a three-run third inning.

The Dodgers outburst put an emphatic end to the Braves’ run of dominant starting pitching. Entering Game 3, the trio of Wright, Max Fried and Ian Anderson has posted a 1.16 ERA over 38 2/3 postseason innings. Thanks to Huascar Ynoa’s four scoreless innings, Atlanta did at least conserve most of its bullpen. That could loom large in Game 4.

Dodgers starter Julio Urias tossed five innings, allowing just a Cristian Pache home run. It was also an encouraging night for struggling closer Kenley Jansen. He pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

MUST-SEE MOMENT

If you hit it to center field against the Dodgers, chances are Cody Bellinger will catch it.

WHAT'S NEXT?

It’s on to a suddenly pivotal Game 4 on Thursday.

Shortly after Game 3, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Clayton Kershaw will be his starting pitcher. The three-time Cy Young Award winner was originally scheduled to start Game 2 but was scratched after experiencing discomfort. Kershaw, whose postseason history is well-documented, has allowed just three runs over 14 innings while striking out 19 in starts against Milwaukee and San Diego this postseason.

For Atlanta, rookie right-hander Bryse Wilson will make his postseason debut. Facing the Dodgers is a tall task, but Wilson has shown plenty of promise. He's been among the Braves top 10 prospects since 2018 and backed it up with a solid 4.02 ERA during the 2020 season.

First pitch of Game 4 is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. ET Thursday with TV coverage on FS1.

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