LOS ANGELES — Nine innings would not be enough for the Dodgers and Brewers on Tuesday night — not even 12 innings for that matter. The game would not reach it’s conclusion until the 13th inning.
With two outs and a man on second, Cody Bellinger smashed a single into right field that brought Manny Machado home with the winning run. Five hours and fifteen minutes later, the Dodgers evened the series at 2-2, causing a best-of-three scenario over the next four days.
Saved by the BELLI! #LADetermined pic.twitter.com/ey9agGs0Qo— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 17, 2018
“Honestly, I was surprised they were throwing to me,” said Bellinger. “I thought they would pitch around means get me to swing. Once I saw they were attacking me, it was just kind of grind mode and do what you can to put the ball in play, and try to end this game.”
End the game it did, on Bellinger’s second hit of the night in four trips to the plate after not even starting the game. Prior to Tuesday night’s affair, the 23-year-old had been 1-for-21 this postseason.
“It’s nice seeing results,” Bellinger added. “I’m sticking with the process, but feeling good for those most of the series, if I stick to the process they’re all going to fall in and they kind of showed today.”
Manager Dave Roberts was one of the first to greet Bellinger as he ran away from his team into left field on the walk-off single. A moment of pure joy for a manager and his player.
“I think it’s seeing our guys persevere through that game,” Roberts said. “Understanding and seeing what Cody has been going through and really just wearing it and the weight of the world on him. For him to come through in that big spot, I just felt for him and our guys. I wanted to make sure I went out there and greeted him.”
“Hamstring is good now, but it will be sore tomorrow.”
Bellinger also came through in the field, snagging this sinking line drive off the bat of Lorenzo Cain in the 10th.
Belli slide. #NLCS pic.twitter.com/2iHwdNo4e7— MLB (@MLB) October 17, 2018
It was a well-pitched affair, with the Brewers needing seven pitchers and the Dodgers needing nine. There were only 15 hits combined and 32 total strikeouts.
Had the game gone any further, it was going to get wild. Neither team was in a position to go much more than a couple more innings.
“It really was,” said Roberts when asked if it was one of the most challenging endings to a game. “We had our Game 6 starter (Hyun-Jin Ryu) going to the pen. We had Julio for two, maybe three innings. So I guess the poker reference, we were all in.”
Some five hours earlier, the Dodgers had struck the first blow, scoring on a Brian Dozier RBI-single in the first inning. It was the first hit with a runner in scoring position since Saturday when Joc Pederson dunked a pop-fly single into no-mans land in Milwaukee that loaded the bases in the seventh inning.
Dozier’s playing time has been limited in the postseason after falling out of favor in September. The Dodger second baseman made an immediate impact on the game.
“(Dozier) hasn’t played a whole lot in the last few weeks but he’s a pro and just really takes good at-bats,” said Roberts. So for him to spark us and get a point on the board early, that was huge.
It was a good start for a Dodger team that needed a win to prevent their backs being against the wall in a must-win Game 5 — which starts in what seems like hours.
Rich Hill was outstanding for five innings, holding the Brewers to one run on three hits. Working around three walks, Hill mostly stayed out of trouble until the fifth when he faced the pesky Orlando Arcia at the bottom of the order.
Arcia smacked a one-out single up the middle into center to bring up the pitcher’s spot. Brewers manager Craig Counsell, sensing the opportunity to score, brought Domingo Santana to the plate to pinch hit.
Santana clubbed one into the right field gap that one-hopped the wall, bringing Arcia around from first to tie the score at one.
Hill now owns a 2.93 ERA in nine postseason starts for the Dodgers, including only two runs in 16 innings over three starts in NLCS play.
The Brewers were forced to go to their bullpen earlier than even they were expecting. After just two innings in Game 1, Gio Gonzalez would be lifted after one batter in the second inning when he turned his ankle on a comebacker.
Freddy Peralta pitched three clean innings after taking over for Gonzalez, while Junior Guerra came within an out of four — and most likely more.
The Brewers bullpen continues to be an interesting case study. In a game where they needed 11 2⁄3 innings from relievers, they only used four of their often used arms for five innings.
Clayton Kershaw looks to put his team ahead in the series, facing off with Wade Miley, who is going on short rest.
Home Runs: none
WP: Julio Urias (1-0): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout
LP: Junior Guerra (0-1): 3 2⁄3 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 4 strikeouts