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MLB Playoff Roundup: October 21st

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Chris Taylor’s three home runs kept the Dodgers alive.

MLB: NLCS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves entered Thursday night’s game looking to clinch a trip to the World Series and rid themselves of the ghosts of last season’s NLCS, where they blew a 3-1 lead to the Dodgers. Unfortunately for them, they were blown out to see their series lead drop to 3-2 — however, they’ll have two more chances to win at home beginning on Saturday. The Red Sox and Astros were off as their series shifts back to Houston.

What happened last night?

NLCS Game 5

Los Angeles Dodgers 11, Atlanta Braves 2

(Braves lead 3-2)

The Dodgers had to stave off elimination with a bullpen game, choosing Joe Kelly to kick things off. Unfortunately for LA, Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman blasted a home run with one out, putting the Dodgers behind early in their win-or-go-home game.

After getting one more out, Kelly was taken out of the game with what was announced as bicep soreness. Right hander Evan Phillips came in to replace him and finished the first inning.

Lest anyone think the Dodgers were cooked, they immediately struck against Braves starter Max Fried in the second inning. AJ Pollock hit a solo home run, Albert Pujols singled, and Chris Taylor hit another home run to give the Dodgers the lead. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Taylor was just getting warmed up.

The next inning, they’d extend the lead even further to 4-2 on a Taylor RBI single. Fried would settle down a bit, but following his removal after 4.2 innings pitched, Taylor would strike again with a two-run home run to extend the Dodger lead to 6-2. Fried finished with a disappointing 5 earned runs allowed, giving up eight hits and two walks.

The teams traded zeroes until the top of the seventh inning, when — who else? — Chris Taylor launched his his third home run to make it 7-2.

Trea Turner would shake out of his playoff slump a bit with an RBI single in the bottom of eighth off of Jacob Webb. If it wasn’t enough of a laugher at that point, Pollock would smash his second home run of the game, a three-run blast to add an exclamation point to LA’s night and make the score 11-2. At least Webb was able to strike out Chris Taylor.

The Dodgers had seemed at a major disadvantage having to play a bullpen game, but everyone after Joe Kelly was dominant — the Braves only got three hits after he left the game. Cory Knebel struck out the side in the eighth inning, then Kenley Jansen was easily able to close the game out in the ninth.

These two teams will meet again on Saturday in Atlanta, with Max Scherzer expected to pitch for the Dodgers against Ian Anderson of the Braves.

What’s on deck?

ALCS Game 6

Houston Astros vs Boston Red Sox

(Luis Garcia vs Nathan Eovaldi)

Time: 8:08 pm ET

TV: FS1

Venue: Minute Maid Park

The Astros are back at home with the chance to clinch a spot in the World Series. Nathan Eovaldi will start for the Red Sox, having appeared in relief in Game 4 of the series where gave up the go-ahead run in a Boston loss. Some length from their most consistent starter this season would go far to keep the Sox’s season alive, after their team has suffered two consecutive blowout losses.

The Sox offense will get their chances against the Astros’ Luis Garcia, who has a 24.55 ERA so far this postseason. Garcia, who was previously sidelined by a knee injury, was deemed good to go by manager Dusty Baker. After eight innings of one run pitching by Framber Valdez in Game 5, the Astros’ bullpen will be extra rested following their off day. Playing at home, it does seem like the circumstances are in Houston’s favor.