LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Cody Bellinger smashed a three-run homer as the Los Angeles Dodgers staged a late rally to beat the Atlanta Braves, 6-5, and haul themselves back into their National League Championship Series on Tuesday.
Bellinger’s monster eighth inning home run off Atlanta reliever Luke Jackson turned a 5-2 deficit into a 5-5 tie game just as the Dodgers appeared to sliding towards a third straight defeat.
Chris Taylor then singled to keep the inning alive before Mookie Betts drove in a run-scoring double to put the Dodgers ahead at 6-5 heading into the ninth before closer Kenley Jansen locked down the win.
After Atlanta stunned the Dodgers with walk-off victories in the opening two games of the best-of-seven series, Tuesday’s game three at Dodger Stadium had acquired must-win status for the reigning world series champions.
But until Bellinger’s homer, the Dodgers had looked to be heading for defeat after a fitful display from starting pitcher Walker Buehler and a spluttering offensive performance.
Atlanta ace Charlie Morton notched five strikeouts across five innings, recovering well after the Dodgers had taken an early lead through Corey Seager’s two-run home run in the first inning.
But the Dodgers star-studded bats failed to fire once more and the Braves looked poised for a deserved win.
Atlanta’s scoring came in a flurry in the fourth inning, when outfielder Joc Pederson singled to Betts to score Freddie Freeman.
Adam Duvall then tied it up with a line drive to left field allowing Austin Riley to cross home plate, before Dansby Swanson’s single scored Pederson for a 3-2 Atlanta lead.
With the bases loaded, the out-of-sorts Buehler then walked Eddie Rosario to allow Duvall to score for a 4-2 lead.
That prompted Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts to yank Buehler from the mound, but the Braves extended the lead at the top of the fifth when Duvall’s single scored Ozzie Albies.
With the Dodgers struggling to generate any momentum, the Braves seemed to be rolling to victory.
But catcher Will Smith and A.J. Pollock singled to start the rally before Bellinger’s homer tied it in the eighth.
Taylor then singled to keep the inning alive, and Betts drove in the go-ahead run with a double to right field.