The Atlanta Braves fought off elimination against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.
Atlanta squandered an early five-run lead but came away with a 6-5 victory after first baseman Freddie Freeman blasted a home run in the sixth to swing the scoreboard back in their favour for good.
The Braves bullpen struggled for much of the game. Chad Sobotka, however, threw a scoreless eighth while Arodys Vizcaino worked around a jam in the ninth to pick up the save and secure the win.
Walker Buehler loses command
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler ran into major trouble in the second. But he appeared set to make it through the inning unscathed when opposing pitcher Sean Newcomb stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.
Buehler, however, failed to record the crucial out. Instead, he walked Newcomb on four pitches, putting the Braves ahead 1-0.
The 24-year-old right-hander then threw three straight balls to Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. before finally finding the strike zone. He would have been better off issuing a walk as Acuna blasted the next pitch of his at-bat over the left-field fence to give the Braves a 5-0 lead.
Acuna is the youngest player to ever hit a grand slam in the postseason and only the fourth rookie to accomplish the feat.
Buehler settled down as he did not allow another run. He walked three and struck out seven in five innings on the mound.
Dodgers take advantage of Braves bullpen
The Braves did not hold onto their five-run lead for long.
Newcomb, the Braves starter, pitched just 2.1 innings before he was replaced by Kevin Gausman with runners on first and second. Gausman allowed both inherited runners to score before he struck out Manny Machado to end the third.
Atlanta's middle relievers continued to struggle from there. Gausman surrendered a two-run homer to Chris Taylor in the fifth and Max Muncy followed with a solo shot off Max Fried two batters later to tie the score.
Is it a new series?
The Dodgers had a chance to make the National League Division Series (NLDS) stress-free.
After winning the first two games, Los Angeles could have shut down any hopes Atlanta had of rallying for a series victory with a win on Sunday. Instead, the Dodgers left seven runners on base and came up just short.
The Braves picked up their first NLDS win and cut their deficit to 2-1.
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