Los Angeles – Chris Taylor hit three home runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers saved their season with a 11-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves to stay alive in the National League Championship Series on Thursday.
Left-fielder A.J. Pollock connected on two homers and the Dodgers’ bullpen held firm as the reigning World Series champions finally came alive in a must-win Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.
The Braves, however, still lead the series 3-2, with the final two games taking place in Atlanta on Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday.
“First time I’ve ever done that, it’s kind of surreal,” said Taylor, who has come alive in the playoffs after struggling through the latter part of the regular season.
“I feel pretty good right — I’m not thinking too much. I was kind of grinding for the last couple of months of the regular season and I worked through some things. Once you get a couple of hits, the confidence comes.”
Taylor said the Dodgers had been determined to respond after being routed 9-2 in Game 4 on Wednesday.
“We needed to make a statement,” he said. “They put it on us yesterday so we had to respond. It was a good answer for us.
“Now we go to Atlanta and we’ll try and take two. We’re still in a good spot.”
With Wednesday’s drubbing still fresh in their minds, Game 5 started ominously for the Dodgers, with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman crushing a 425-foot (130-meter) homer off Joe Kelly for a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The Dodgers were later forced into a hasty change on the mound, with Kelly leaving with an injury after getting the second out of the inning.
Braves starter Max Fried kept Dodgers scoreless in the first, but was in trouble in the bottom of the second.
Pollock crushed a homer to left-center to make it 2-1 before Albert Pujols singled with a sharp line drive into left field.
Taylor then cashed in with his first home run of the night to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.
Taylor drove in another run in the bottom of the third to score Pollock and make the score 4-2
Crucially, the Los Angeles bullpen held firm in the fourth, with reliever Brusdar Graterol getting rid of Freeman, Austin Riley and Adam Duvall in six pitches.
Graterol delivered another brisk inning in the fifth, as the Braves finally pulled Fried after the ace walked Will Smith and Pujols singled.
Taylor immediately jumped on Fried’s replacement, Chris Martin, sending another home run to left to score Pujols and put the Dodgers ahead 6-2.
Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen held down Atlanta in the sixth and seventh innings before Taylor made it 7-2 to with his third home run of the night, this one off Dylan Lee.
Trea Turner drove in a run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 8-2 and Pollock bludgeoned a three-run home run to complete the rout.
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