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Dodgers vs. Braves score: Dodgers rally with clutch homers in NLCS Game 5 to stave off elimination

The Los Angeles Dodgers were backed against a wall in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers came through with the win to expand the series and keep their season alive. The Braves got an early run and led in the first half of the game, but a big blow turned everything around. The Dodgers would win in the end, 7-3.

Here are some of the biggest stories and things to know.

The Battle of Will Smiths

The game’s biggest single plate appearance came in a historic matchup. Dodgers catcher Will Smith came on the record to meet Braves reliever Will Smith. Too bad this did not happen in Miami, did it? Seriously, however, this was the decisive moment in the game, and it happened in the first match ever in the history of the post season with the same named players. It was 2-1

Braves with two runners on and two outs. The count ran to 3-2 with Smith jug just peppered the inside of the plate. He came in one too many times and his counterpart hammered the pitch into left field pitches.

What a turn. Which momentum fluctuates. Let’s not put down Max Muncy, who works the two-out aisle in the left-left matchup to get things to Smith, but of course the Dodgers ’Smith was the biggest hero here.

The Braves had gotten so much good pitching from relievers to that point (we’ll get to that in a second) and everything turned right there. Well, maybe it started a little earlier.

Ozuna leaves early

At the bottom of the third, the Braves got runners on second and third with one out. Dansby Swanson sent a liner to the right field. Mookie Betts made a fine catch – if he missed the ball, it would have easily scored two runs – and had a bit of a double-clutch on his throw while trying to get the handle. Marcell Ozuna hit the throw after tagging from third to make it 3-0, even though it was temporary. Ozuna left very clearly early from third base. A review corrected the call and ended the call. It was 2-0 instead of 3-0 with a runner on second base.

At the top of the fourth, Corey Seager met to reduce the deficit to 2-1. The momentum was reversed. Oh, when we talk about Mr. Seager.

Seager’s exclamation mark

The thing about bullpen games is that you risk needing about eight relievers, and there is a decent chance that one or two of them will get tattooed. At the top of the seventh, things were a little weird. Chris Taylor, with two outs, was ruled out for being hit by a pitch. The Braves protested, and they were right. Review showed the pitch hit the bottom of the bat instead of Taylor’s hand, so he was brought back to the home plate to continue hitting. He doubled. Mookie Betts followed with an RBI single, and then Corey Seager dropped the hammer with another home run:

It then became 7-2 instead of 4-2 after a big two-out rally. It was actually an exclamation point for Dodger’s victory. It was also Seager’s second homer in the game. He’s been killing the ball all season, and if the Dodgers come back to win this series, keep an eye on him for the NLCS MVP. He hits .400 with a 1,529 OPS, four homers and 10 RBI in this series.

Mints came up tremendously early for the Braves

The Braves were forced to go with a bullpen game because of the way their pitching figures in a seven-game series without days off. Lefty AJ Minter started his first start since hitting Texas A&M. He became the first pitcher in history to start his first career in the big league in a playoff. He had not even thrown 20 lanes in a game all post season before this game. His career high on places in a game was 36.

Minter threw 42 spots in this one. He came through three innings that only allowed one hit. He knocked out seven without a single walk. It marked a career high in strikes, and he actually tied Curt Schilling to a post-season record by knocking out five straight hitters. What nail performance to shorten the game for the rest of the bullpen.

Even in a loss, Minters’ outing meant the Braves did not have to burn nearly as many relievers as many would have predicted.

Dodgers’ relievers are doing their job

Dodgers starter Dustin May allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks in his two-innings work, putting his team behind while Minter traded early. Dodgers ‘bullpen followed by complete locking of the Braves’ hefty offense to keep the door open for the offense to get it together, as it did in the end.

  • Joe Kelly was saved out with a double play and then the aforementioned Ozuna baserunning gaffe. But hey, he worked a fruitless inning.
  • Blake Treinen went six up / six down in two fruitless innings.
  • Pedro Baez allowed a hit in his scoreless inning while hitting two.
  • Victor Gonzalez got three outs even though he was charged with a earned run.
  • Brusdar Graterol allowed his inherited runner to score on a groundout, but he got all three hitters he faced.
  • Kenley Jansen, who is rightly associated with major concerns this post season, knocked out all three hitters he faced.

In all, the Dodgers’ six relievers went seven innings, allowing only a run of four hits and a turn while hitting seven. Not a bad day at the office.

It’s hard to get close to winnings

This does not mean much in the big scheme, but it goes to how fun these league championships will be. The Astros have won three straight games facing elimination, while the Dodgers just did the same, meaning the team facing the end of its season is now 4-0 this round.

Next time

The series has been expanded to a Game 6. It will be a rematch of Game 1 with Max Fried taking the hill to visit the Braves vs. Walker Buehler from home Dodgers. Do you remember game 1? It was a doozy. The Braves got a Freddie Freeman homer in the first, the Dodgers got an Enrique Hernandez homer in the fifth, and it was a draw, 1-1, until the ninth. Austin Riley broke the tie with a homer and the Braves ended up scoring four that inning. Let’s hope there’s just as much drama in Game 6. Or even Game 5! This has been a fun series and it continues on Saturday.

The CBS Sports team was with you through Game 5 of NLCS with live updates below. You are welcome to roll through and relive the very lively match between NL’s two best teams.

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