Braves walk off again to take 2-0 series lead over Dodgers

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Eddie Rosario cracked a line-drive single up the middle to score Dansby Swanson and give the Atlanta Braves their second straight walk-off win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in baseball's National League Championship Series on Sunday.

The Braves, who twice trailed by two runs, rallied to beat the Dodgers 5-4 and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The reigning World Series champion Dodgers will try to regroup when they host game three on Tuesday.

Atlanta scored in each of the last two innings, Rosario leading off the eighth against Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias -- a regular starter who was sent in as a reliever -- with a single.

Rosario advanced to second on Freddie Freeman's fly out and scored on a single from Ozzie Albies -- the sliding Rosario managing to avoid the attempted tag at home plate by Dodgers catcher Will Smith to pull the Braves within 4-3.

Austin Riley, who delivered a walk-off hit in game one on Saturday, then belted a double over the head of Mookie Betts and off the centerfield wall that saw Albies score from first base for a 4-4 tie.

After Braves pitcher Will Smith retired three straight Dodgers batters in the top of the ninth inning, the Dodgers sent Brusdar Graterol to the mound in the ninth.

Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud greeted him with a single but was out at second after Swanson's bunt. After another groundout, Rosario came to the plate with two outs to face Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen.

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager couldn't corral the hard-hit ball from Rosario that bounced into center field, allowing Swanson to score the winning run.

The ninth-inning drama capped a close game in which the Dodgers took the lead in the first inning on Seager's two-run home run against Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson before an out had been recorded.

Former Dodger Joc Pederson answered with a two-run blast off a curveball from Dodgers starter Max Scherzer to tie the game in the fourth inning.

Chris Taylor put the Dodgers up again in the seventh with a double that scored two runs before the Braves rallied in the final frame.

Cy Young Award contender Scherzer didn't make it out of the fifth inning,with Roberts going to his bullpen with one out in the frame.

- 'Fun challenge' -

For the second year in a row the Braves now take a 2-0 lead in the NLCS into game three against the Dodgers.

"That's absolutely huge," Riley said of gaining two home wins before heading to Dodger Stadium.

"That's a tough atmosphere, but I feel like it’s going to be a fun challenge."

The Braves have lost seven straight games and 10 of their last 11 at Dodger Stadium. They were swept in a three-game regular-season series there in August-September.

The Dodgers won 15 straight home games at the end of the regular season and have won two of three at home this post-season.

"I don't have to remind them of anything," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of what he will tell his team about the task that awaits.

"I think that they're going to realize, and we all do, last year when we were up 3-1, how hard it is to win a baseball game."