Bellinger drives in winning run as Dodgers edge Giants to advance

San Francisco (AFP) –

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Cody Bellinger drove in the winning run in the ninth inning Thursday as the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers edged the San Francisco Giants 2-1 to advance to baseball's National League Championship Series.

With one swing, Bellinger put a disappointing season behind him, driving a pitch from Giants closer Camilo Doval low into right center field to allow Justin Turner to score from second base.

Turner had reached first when he was hit by a pitch from Doval, and advanced on a single from Gavin Lux.

The victory gave the Dodgers a 3-2 victory in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

It was a bitter end to the season for San Francisco, who won 107 regular-season games to edge the 106-win Dodgers for the NL West division title but couldn't finish off their longtime rivals in the first ever playoff series between the two.

Bellinger, the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player, had struggled to a .165 batting average this season and was 3-for-14 in these playoffs, but didn't shy away from the moment.

"You really do want to be in that moment," Bellinger said. "I was down two strikes, I just tried to stay within my approach. I felt good.

"The Previous three or four pitches I saw, I just missed them, and that time I just stayed a little simpler and got the job done right there."

Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts had a post-season career-high four hits to help the Dodgers book an NLCS showdown with the Atlanta Braves for a place in the World Series.

Game one of the best-of-seven series is on Saturday in Atlanta.

Star pitcher Max Scherzer, acquired by the Dodgers at the trade deadline, came on for the bottom of the ninth inning and got the first save of his Major League Baseball career.

Especially wrenching for the Giants, first baseman Wilmer Flores attempted to check his swing at Scherzer's final pitch, but first-base umpire Gabe Morales ruled it a swing for a third strike -- and San Francisco's season was over.