Dodgers rally and defeat Braves in potential October preview

There was the former Dodgers closer, who fired off a save against his old team.

For once, the Braves were closer, also faltering against his former team in a late-night game at Truist Park on Sunday.

And of course there was the longtime Braves hero who burned down his old club at the end of an emotional reunion weekend in this town.

In the end, neither Kenley Jansen, nor Craig Kimbrel, nor even Freddie Freeman were part of the sequence that ultimately decided the Dodgers’ 5-3 extra-innings win — instead, Chris Taylor and Trea Turner gave the green light for the RBIs to take the To help the Dodgers take two out of three games against their National League nemesis.

It was the Dodgers’ first extra innings win after five losses.

But in a series centered around Freeman’s return to Atlanta, which could very well have served as a preview of a third straight postseason meeting involving the teams this fall, it was only fitting that all three familiar faces played a prominent role in reaching the game 11 innings.

“We all know these are two great teams,” Freeman said, “that have a really good chance of meeting again.”

At first, it looked like Sunday’s series finale wouldn’t even make it to the bottom of the ninth.

Despite a solid 5 2/3-innings, one-run start from Tony Gonsolin — who recaptured the best ERA in the majors at 1.58 after re-qualifying with the league’s minimum innings threshold — the Dodgers offense kept quiet for eight innings.

Braves starter Spencer Strider shut them out for the top six. Three Braves reliefs made for scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth.

Entering ninth place, the Dodgers were unsuccessful in seven at-bat, with runners in goal position.

And the result seemed so certain that, walking off the field half an inning early, Freeman had tears in his eyes – apparently believing his emotional homecoming was about to end.

“I’m emotionally drained,” Freeman said. “It exceeded all my expectations.”

Freddie Freeman responds to a standing ovation as he takes his first shot against the Braves on Sunday.

Freddie Freeman responds to a standing ovation as he takes his first shot against the Braves on Sunday.

(Bob Andres / Associated Press)

It also took a little longer than he expected.

Looking for his second straight save against the Dodgers in the ninth round, Jansen recorded two quick strikeouts before getting into trouble.

Gavin Lux hit a line drive single to the right. Taylor lined a base hit to the left, then stole for second.

Then, as the Dodgers (45-26) scored their final goal, Trayce Thompson — who had been added late to the lineup after Zach McKinstry was scratched for a stiff neck — hit a floater just brushing the top of Matt Olson’s glove first base, falls safely into flat right field to score both runs.

“[I had] no idea,” Thompson said of the hit, which he initially thought was fouled, looking over himself as the ball drifted the other way. “I was just trying to go there and compete. I’m glad it fell in any case.”

Trayce Thompson hits a two-run single for the Dodgers during Sunday's ninth inning against the Braves.

Trayce Thompson hits a two-run single for the Dodgers during Sunday’s ninth inning against the Braves.

(Bob Andres / Associated Press)

Freeman nearly delivered a picture book ending on the 10th, hitting an RBI double down the line that gave his new team a 3-2 lead while silencing his old fans who stalked him early in the Spiels received a loud on-plate ovation before booing him at key moments for the rest of the night.

“When I was booed at Truist Park, it’s the last thing I ever expected in my life,” said Freeman, who played four for twelve on the series.

“But it’s ok. They’re wonderful baseball fans. They care about their team. So at some point I expected that.”

Kimbrel, another former Braves star, failed to defend the lead. Two pitches into the bottom of the 10th, Olson lined a base hit down the middle that again knotted the score. William Contreras was close to walking it later in the inning but watched a deep fly-ball die down center on the warning lane for the finals.

That kept the game alive for Taylor and Turner in the 11th. Taylor hit an RBI double that was deflected down the foul line by Austin Riley at third base. Turner started an insurance run with a base hit down the middle.

At the end of the 11th, Brusdar Graterol was called out and converted his first regular-season save of his career, touching 102.5 mph with his fastball, despite going up against the Braves (42-32) for the third straight day.

“It was quite a game, quite a streak,” said manager Dave Roberts. “The way they pitched, we pitched and every game felt like a postseason game, it really did.”

This year may not be the last time it feels like this between the Dodgers and Braves.

“This team [there’s] There’s a good chance they’ll be there by the end of the year,” Taylor said. “To grind one out and win one that way, several people contributed, kind of smashed away, that was a good team win for us.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-06-26/dodgers-defeat-atlanta-braves-11-innings-mlb Dodgers rally and defeat Braves in potential October preview

Emma Bowman

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