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Braves maximize scoring opportunities to beat Dodgers in Game 1

Riley’s walk-off hit in 9th lifts Atlanta in Game 1

National League Championship Series Game 1: Los Angeles Dodgers v. Atlanta Braves Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Dodgers offense didn’t take advantage of opportunities, and paid the price when Austin Riley singled home Ozzie Albies for a walk-off, 3-2 win for the Braves, taking Game 1 of the NLCS at Truist Park in Atlanta.

Riley was at the plate for all three Atlanta runs on Saturday, including a solo home run in the fourth inning, his second of the postseason. The winning run scored after Albies reached on a fly ball single with one out in the ninth off Blake Treinen, then stole second base to set the stage for Riley’s walk-off.

The first inning was similar, in that Eddie Rosario singled and stole second off Corey Knebel, though Rosario might have been out had shortstop Corey Seager kept the tag as he slid slightly off the bag. A grounder got Rosario to third, then he scored on a wild pitch for the game’s first run. With Riley at the plate.

Atlanta only had six hits, didn’t walk, and had just one at-bat with a runner in scoring position before Riley’s walk-off single. They maximized their scoring opportunities off a Dodgers bullpen game that did pretty much everything the team wanted, allowing three runs while striking out 14 batters.

The Dodgers on offense though weren’t as effective with their chances.

Will Smith hit his third home run in seven games this postseason, the most ever in a single postseason by a Dodgers catcher. AJ Pollock doubled and Chris Taylor singled for another run.

The best chance to score late came in the seventh, when Taylor doubled to lead off the frame. Pinch-hitter Austin Barnes bunted Taylor to third with one out with the top of the order coming up, but Mookie Betts popped out and Trea Turner struck out against Tyler Matzek to waste the golden opportunity.

In the ninth, a walk by Taylor with two outs was followed by a single to right by pinch-hitter Cody Bellinger. Taylor had designs on advancing to third, but inexplicably stopped a third of the way between bases. Had he kept going, Joc Pederson’s low throw likely wouldn’t have caught him. But instead, the throw was cut off, and Taylor was a dead duck, ending the inning in a rundown.

The Dodgers had 10 hits in the game, including eight off starter Max Fried, and even stole two bases themselves. But Taylor’s second-inning single was LA’s only hit with runners in scoring position all game, in eight at-bats.

“We threw out some hits, we just couldn’t get the hit when we needed,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the game.

Through seven games, the Dodgers are averaging just 3.29 runs per game, and have scored three or fewer runs five times.

NLCS Game 1 particulars

Home runs: Will Smith (3); Austin Riley (2)

WP — Will Smith (1-0): 1 IP, 1 hits, 1 walk

LP — Blake Treinen (0-1): ⅓ IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 strikeout

Up next

Max Scherzer got an extra day of rest after his NLDS-closing save, and will start Sunday night in Game 2 (4:38 p.m. PT, TBS), with right-hander Ian Anderson starting for the Braves.