Corey Seager and Justin Turner hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers completed their rebound from a slow start in the National League Championship Series to force a deciding Game 7 with a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at Arlington, Texas.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler helped make a three-run first inning hold up by pitching six scoreless innings. He gave up seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts.
"It was just a great ballgame," Turner said. "Walker obviously set the tone early and came out and was electric. Seager was Seager again, getting the offense going. We ended up getting three in the first and that's all Walker needed. And then the bullpen did another outstanding job."
Braves starter Max Fried worked through his struggles in the opening inning to keep the Braves in the game.
Fried allowed three runs on eight hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 109 pitches to protect a taxed Atlanta bullpen.
"(Fried) kept us off balance all night with that (curveball) the last time we faced him, so we figured we would see it early and try to attack it," Seager said. "Fortunately for us, he left some balls up and we were able to attack it. But he's a tough guy to face and you see that in the after part of innings. We had to grind through everything."
The Dodgers trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in the series but will now get a chance to advance to their third World Series in the past four years with a victory on Sunday. They will send rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin to the mound in the deciding game.
"We put pressure on them and we just have to continue to play our game and we should be OK," Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts told MLB Network afterward.
The Braves have now missed out on two chances to go to their first World Series since 1999. They also will turn to a rookie in right-hander Ian Anderson, who has yet to give up a run in three playoff starts and 15 2/3 postseason innings.
Fried (0-1) opened his outing in Game 6 by getting Betts on a fly ball to center field. Seager followed with a home run to right field on a 0-1 curveball, while Turner crushed a sinker two pitches later over the wall in center.
After a walk to Max Muncy and a single from Will Smith, Cody Bellinger delivered a run-scoring single to center for a 3-0 advantage.
"I was just trying to limit the damage as much as I could and obviously that first inning was enough (for the Dodgers)," said Fried.
The Braves had a prime scoring chance in the second inning, opening with singles from Travis d'Arnaud, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson to load the bases. But Buehler (1-0) escaped the jam by striking out Austin Riley and Nick Markakis, before Cristian Pache grounded out.
"(Buehler) loaded the bases and then elevated his game there," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Obviously you'd like to get at least one out of that and we couldn't. There were other times, too, where we had runners on."
Atlanta had another scoring chance in the fifth inning. Freddie Freeman singled with two outs before Marcell Ozuna crushed a drive to right field. But Betts made a leaping catch up against the wall to rob Ozuna of extra bases.
"(Buehler) just doesn't panic and he loves the big moments," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "The great ones make great pitches and big pitches in big spots. And he has done that time and time again."
The Dodgers' bullpen shut down the Braves. Blake Treinen gave up a run in the seventh inning on a Ronald Acuna RBI double. Pedro Baez pitched a perfect eighth inning, while Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for his second save of the postseason and his first since the wild-card round.
--Field Level Media