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MLB Playoff Roundup: Braves and Padres strike back in Game 2

Both NLDS sets are tied at a game apiece after wins by Atlanta and San Diego.

San Diego Padres defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 during Game 2 of a National League Division Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Wednesday was an offday for American League Division Series action, so we only had the National League to watch. Both NLDS games at least made for compelling TV, and even better, both guaranteed at least one more playoff game in each series. The Dodgers and Phillies each had a chance to move up 2-0, but instead, the two NLDS sets are knotted up as the home field shifts in advance of Saturday.

Here’s what happened in the two series.

NLDS Game 2

Atlanta Braves 3, Philadelphia Phillies 0

(series tied, 1-1)

Although the two NL East teams combined for 13 runs in Philly’s Game 1 surprise victory in Atlanta, the starting pitching took over for Game 2. Well, first the rain took over, as it poured at Truist Park for hours, and by the time Braves starter Kyle Wright actually took the mound, this late-afternoon start had become a night game.

After waiting 11 days between starts though, Wright was unfazed by the three-hour delay. The former No. 5 overall pick stymied the Phillies over six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while fanning six (with a little help from home-plate umpire Nic Lentz). He never allowed more than one baserunner in any frame, and he stranded the one man to reach scoring position: Bryce Harper on a leadoff double in the second.

Wright had to bring his “A” game because mound opponent Zack Wheeler looked as tough as he was in the Wild Card Series against St. Louis. The Phillies right-hander rang his postseason debut scoreless streak up to 11.1 innings, and through five, he’d given up just one hit. With two down in the sixth though, a weird combination of factors conspired to end Wheeler’s streak and put the Braves ahead.

It all started when a sinker got away and drilled Ronald Acuña Jr. on the elbow, causing a several-minute delay, as the Atlanta superstar was in pain and checked out by the trainers (he lost feeling in his arm for a bit, but no structural damage was found). Dansby Swanson then worked a walk for Wheeler’s first free pass of the night. Matt Olson was next, and while he hit one hard, it was a play that most first basemen should make. Alas, this is the Phillies defense:

The Braves had the 1-0 lead, and they tripled it with the aid of a perfectly-placed infield hit by Austin Riley and a clean RBI single from Travis d’Arnaud. Tack on beautiful glovework from Swanson and Riley, and three zeroes from the Atlanta bullpen trio of A.J. Minter, Raisel Iglesias, and Kenley Jansen, and you have a tied series. The Phillies were blanked in a three-hit shutout, but they will get to play the next two games back in Philly — the city’s first taste of playoff baseball since 2011.

NLDS Game 2

San Diego Padres 5, Los Angeles Dodgers 3

(series tied, 1-1)

I’ll be frank: I had the Dodgers sweeping this series in three. I want to believe in the Dads though! So I was happy to see them stun the Dodger Stadium faithful by stealing Game 2 in LA. They might have been separated in the NL West standings by 22 games, but if the Padres can win just two of the next three (with a pair in San Diego), then they’ll pull off one of the biggest playoff upsets in MLB history.

That’s future talk, though, and Game 2 offered plenty of its own stories. The first involved the a few solo shots off acclaimed pitchers. Manny Machado clubbed Clayton Kershaw’s seventh pitch of the game for a homer, and Freddie Freeman countered in the bottom of the first with a blast off Yu Darvish. Max Muncy added one of his own in the second, and after the Padres scrapped together a pair of runs on the strength of a Machado double, the Dodgers brought it back to even with a Trea Turner bomb. After three innings, the score sat at 3-3.

The pitching settled down from there on, and against all odds (and 10 stranded Dodger baserunners), Dave Roberts’ powerhouse LA club couldn’t score again. Major credit goes to 31-year-old rookie Robert Suarez, who joined the San Diego bullpen in 2022 after several seasons in Japan. The right-hander threw two shutout innings after initially entering to escape a first-and-third, no-out jam in the sixth with a Justin Turner strikeout and Gavin Lux double-play ball.

By that point, the Padres had a slim 4-3 lead, as a leadoff hit of their own in the sixth combined with a Trea Turner error and Jurickson Profar RBI single to put San Diego ahead. It could have been a lot more though, but Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol and center fielder Cody Bellinger both made sensational plays to keep it a one-run ballgame.

There was nothing they could do to defense a Jake Cronenworth solo homer in the eighth though, and the Padres had their much-appreciated insurance run. Josh Hader earned his first save of over three outs since 2020 by getting the final four at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. The Padres will now return to San Diego with a tied NLDS for their first playoff games at Petco Park since 2006 (eat your heart out, Philly).

Oh, and there was also a goose in the outfield. It ruled.