ATLANTA (AP) — Chris Taylor hit a bases-loaded double in the eight-run fifth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 9-5 Friday night in a rematch of last year’s NL Championship Series.
In the teams’ first meeting since the defending World Series champion Dodgers rallied from a 3-1 deficit, Los Angeles sent 13 batters to the plate in the top of the fifth, which lasted over 40 minutes.
Braves starter Ian Anderson (4-3), facing Los Angeles for the first time in the regular season and the first time since Game 7 of the NLCS, retired the first nine batters he faced, five by strikeout, before allowing two walks in the fourth. He began the unravel in the fifth, walking Taylor and giving up his lone hit, a double by Gavin Lux.
“We have an explosive offense, and I feel like we can put up five, six, seven, eight runs whenever,” Lux said. “We have a lot of really good hitters, really good players. When we string together at-bats like that, it’s pretty fun to be a part of. That inning was huge. It was the difference maker in the game.”
Los Angeles tied it at 1-all when third baseman Austin Riley fielded A.J. Pollock’s grounder and hit Taylor in the back with his throw home, allowing a run to score. Lux used a headfirst slide to cross the plate on pitcher Julio Urías’ bunt that Anderson fielded in front of the mound and flipped too late to catcher William Contreras.
“The ground ball to Riley off the bat off Pollock and C.T. running in the baseline, getting hit in the back flipped the game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s just a heads up play, taking away the angle from the third baseman. After that, it was just good to see our guys take the walks.”
Reliever Sean Newcomb walked Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger with the bases loaded to make it 4-1 before Will Smith singled for a 5-1 lead and Taylor doubled. Newcomb and Grant Dayton combined to allow four runs and five walks for a bullpen that began the night with a 4.79 ERA, fifth-worst in the majors.
“Yeah, it’s an issue,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Anybody that comes in, the key to pitching is throwing strikes. Throwing strike one and hitting your spots, but you can’t get buckshot like we did that inning. We weren’t even close on a lot of them. We’ve got to do a better job of making pitches right there.”
Freddie Freeman homered for the 13th time to make it 1-0 in the first.
Urías (8-2) was facing the Braves for the first time since closing them out with three perfect innings in Game 7 of the NLCS. He allowed four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in five innings.
Los Angeles, which had four hits and walked eight times, added a run in the ninth. The Dodgers have won three of four and 16 of 22 to improve to 34-23. The Braves, who got a two-run double from Ozzie Albies and another two runs on an error by shortstop Lux in the eighth, have lost five of seven to drop to 26-29.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen pitched a shaky ninth in a non-save situation, walking the first two batters he faced, but Ronald Acuña Jr. popped out, Freeman struck out and Albies flied out to end it.
Dodgers: 1B Max Muncy left the game with right ankle pain after trying to beat out a double play in the fourth. Matt Beaty took his spot and then was replaced by pinch-hitter Albert Pujols in the fifth. … RHP Jimmy Nelson faced the minimum in the sixth after returning from the injured list Thursday with forearm inflammation.
Braves: RHP Shane Greene is no longer suffering a stiff back and is a possibility to rejoin the major league club this weekend. Greene re-signed with Atlanta on May 9 and he has been building up strength at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-4, 3.33 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (4-2, 4.11) in the second game of the three-game series. Kershaw is unbeaten in 11 career regular season starts against the Braves, going 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA. Morton is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers.
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