Riley’s game-winning single in 9th lifts Braves past Dodgers

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Atlanta Braves’ Austin Riley runs past Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Albert Pujols (55) after hitting a home run during the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA, Ga. (Associated Press) – Austin Riley homered and drove in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night.

Blake Treinen struck out Freddie Freeman to open the ninth before giving up Ozzie Albies’ bloop single to center field. Albies stole second before Riley followed with his line drive into left field.

Riley spread his arms in celebration as he rounded first base before he was swarmed by his Atlanta teammates. Riley was mobbed as the celebration carried into shallow center field.

The slugging third baseman also homered in the fourth.

The teams are meeting in the NL Championship Series for the second consecutive season. The Dodgers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win last year’s series in seven games before also winning the World Series.

Game 2 is Sunday night in Atlanta before the series shifts to Los Angeles.

The Dodgers wasted a scoring opportunity in the top of the ninth. Will Smith got two outs before walking Chris Taylor. Pinch-hitter Cody Bellinger hit a soft single to right field, but Taylor got caught in a rundown between second and third that started with right fielder Joc Pederson’s throw to shortstop Dansby Swanson.

Corey Knebel lasted one inning as the Dodgers’ opener, giving up a run. Eddie Rosario led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on Albies’ groundout and scored on Knebel’s wild pitch to Riley.

The Dodgers pulled even in the second on AJ Pollock’s two-out double and Taylor’s single to left field.

Smith’s homer in the fourth, his third of the postseason, gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Riley’s two-out homer off Tony Gonsolin in the fourth tied the game.

Braves starter Max Fried gave up two runs on eight hits, including Smith’s homer, in six innings. Fried threw 23 consecutive strikes, the most in a postseason game in 20 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Dodgers outhit the Braves 10-6 but left runners on base in each of the first seven innings except the fourth, when Smith hit the homer. Los Angeles hitters were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

No Braves pitcher posted a perfect inning until the eighth, when Luke Jackson got three consecutive outs.

Justin Turner, who was 2 for 24 in the Dodgers’ first two postseason rounds, had one hit. Albert Pujols was held without a hit on three groundouts before popping out in the ninth.

Freeman had four strikeouts against four different Los Angeles pitchers after having only one four-strikeout game in the regular season.

UP NEXT

Braves RHP Ian Anderson will face Dodgers ace Max Scherzer in Game 2 on Sunday night.

Scherzer was tentatively scheduled to start Game 1 even though he earned his first career save to close out Thursday’s Game 5 of the Dodgers’ NL Division Series win over San Francisco. He was pushed back because he expects to be at full strength following another day of rest.

Scherzer has pitched 12 1/3 innings over three appearances in the playoffs, allowing two runs and six hits with 16 strikeouts. Scherzer, who pitched for Washington for six-plus seasons in the NL East before he was traded to the Dodgers this season, is very familiar with the Braves’ lineup, which he said “first and foremost starts with Freddie Freeman.”

“Hands down, he’s the best hitter I’ve had to face,” Scherzer said. “And I love facing him because that’s who you measure yourself against when you have to face the best.”

Anderson is 3-0 with a 0.76 ERA in five career postseason starts. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits without a walk, in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee in the NL Division Series.

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