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Atlanta Takes 2-0 Lead Over Dodgers in NLCS

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ATLANTA — Fortunes by no means change extra rapidly than they do in October.

“We’re tired,” Chris Taylor, a utility participant for the Los Angeles Dodgers, acknowledged as Sunday slipped into Monday and the Dodgers trudged towards their constitution flight out of Georgia wanting ahead to Monday’s off day. “We’re ready to get home.”

Atlanta hastened the Dodgers’ readiness with well timed hitting and clutch pitching over the primary two video games of this National League Championship Series, neither of which the Dodgers might muster.

Atlanta, champions of the N.L. East, gained Game 2 similar to they gained Game 1, with a bottom-of-the-ninth-inning hit and a mad sprint residence. This time, it was Dansby Swanson racing in from second base after Eddie Rosario tattooed a 105-mile-per-hour screamer up the center that one-hopped off Corey Seager’s glove behind second base to offer Atlanta a 5-4 win.

Players spilled out of the dugout and mobbed Rosario, simply as that they had Austin Riley 24 hours earlier when Riley singled for the primary game-winning hit of his main league profession.

The Dodgers arrived right here three days in the past after profitable the N.L. wild-card sport after which sending the group with baseball’s finest file this 12 months, San Francisco, packing in a division collection.

Now?

“My arm was dead,” mentioned starter Max Scherzer, who was making his third look in seven days and fourth in 12 days. “I could tell when I was warming up that it was still tired.”

Two batters into the sport, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager smashed a two-run homer. But in the fourth, Scherzer surrendered a monstrous, 454-foot, two-run blast to former Dodger Joc Pederson to offer the lead again and make it 2-2.

The Dodgers seized one other two-run lead in the seventh because of Chris Taylor’s double, however then opted to convey 20-game winner Julio Urias in from the bullpen to begin the eighth inning as a substitute of handing issues over to a traditional reliever. Like Scherzer earlier than him, Urias didn’t have his finest stuff and Atlanta ambushed him for 3 hits, making it 4-4 on Riley’s double over Mookie Betts’s head that allowed Ozzie Albies to attain from first base.

“Julio, in my opinion, was the best option we had,” mentioned Manager Dave Roberts of utilizing Urias in that scenario somewhat than Brusdar Graterol, lefty Justin Bruihl and nearer Kenley Jansen. He added that Urias ought to be nice to begin Game 4 on Wednesday, ought to the sport be vital, regardless of Sunday’s pummeling in which he surrendered hits to half of the batters confronted.

Suddenly, shockingly, the Dodgers are in deep hassle. They went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring place Sunday and a pair of for 18 in Games 1 and a pair of mixed. Their pitching is a large number. They left city shellshocked.

“It’s not an excuse, you don’t get breaks during the season, but we haven’t had a break, really,” mentioned Mookie Betts as he walked down the quiet concourse towards the group bus. “A day off. We’ve constantly been playing catch-up. But it is what it is. It’s what we signed up for.”

It could be mistaken, Betts mentioned, to name what occurred in Atlanta a letdown.

“You’ve got to give credit to them boys over there,” he mentioned. “They’re playing really well. We’re not. We can’t call it a letdown. We’ve got to hit, man. That’s all it really is.”

Betts talked about how good Atlanta is and, even supposing the Dodgers gained 4 of six video games towards them this summer time, that notion is nothing he must promote to his teammates. Part of what has made these first two video games so shocking is that it is a rematch of final 12 months’s N.L.C.S. in which Atlanta took a three-games-to-one lead. The Dodgers had been in a position to climb out of that gap with three consecutive wins.

That reminiscence remained recent when Los Angeles arrived at Truist Field on Saturday. But on their flight residence, particularly given the state of their pitching employees and the truth that Justin Turner, the heartbeat of their clubhouse, was a late Game 2 scratch with what the group mentioned was a sore neck, the Dodgers needed to be questioning whether or not they have one other comeback left in them.

Taylor mentioned that Seager makes the play on Rosario’s ball 9 out of 10 instances even given the sink and spin on it.

“Nine out of 10 times, but there’s always that one,” Betts mentioned. “It’s a tough play. It’s a tough play for anyone. It’s not Seager’s fault.”

It had appeared like Atlanta had neutralized the Los Angeles risk when, two batters earlier than the walk-off, Swanson had pushed a bunt towards the mound with a runner on first. Graterol gloved it, wheeled and fired to second for the pressure. But that throw bounced and Seager made a sensational decide to forestall the ball from bouncing into heart discipline. He received the out.

“They just apply pressure on us over and over again,” Betts mentioned, “and we finally cracked.”

It didn’t must be that approach for the Dodgers. Not solely did Betts begin the sport with a single and Seager adopted with the homer, however Atlanta starter Ian Anderson was wobbly, throwing solely 11 strikes in his first 26 pitches. The Dodgers, with three extra base runners in the primary, had an opportunity to pour it on and couldn’t do it.

“I think it’s everything, physically and mentally draining,” Taylor mentioned. “These games, they’re four, five hours long. The level of focus is a little different than regular-season games. It’s definitely exhausting, but that’s what you expect. Everybody on this team has experience with it.”

He talked about regrouping on Monday and getting again to it in Game 3 Tuesday. Walker Buehler, one of many Dodgers’ aces, is rested and prepared.

“We definitely believe we can win with him,” mentioned Scherzer, who lasted solely 4 and a 3rd innings and 79 pitches on Sunday.

It is October, and fortunes change rapidly. For the Dodgers, they’d higher. Because the times are operating quick.