The Dodgers and Braves welcomed fans back in the NLCS and that has cursed everything.
For the first time this postseason, the Dodgers lost a game, falling 5-1 to the Braves in a game that was close until the 9th.
Facing ace Max Fried, the Dodgers started with back-to-back strikeouts in the 1st, but Justin Turner singled and Max Muncy worked a walk to get the first scoring chance of the game. That unfortunately resulted in a Will Smith strikeout, though they did work 28 pitches.
Buehler in the 2nd continued to struggle a bit with his command, issuing a walk to Christian Pache (substituted mid at-bat for an injury to Adam Duvall) and a wild pitch in the inning to create a scoring opportunity, but also striking out three for minimal drama.
The Dodgers also had another scoring chance in the 2nd, getting a one-out single from AJ Pollock and a two-out walk from Chris Taylor to set the table, but Mookie Betts flew out to center to end the threat. 45 pitches for Fried was the only saving grace.
A one-out walk from Freeman created another scoring chance for the Braves in the 3rd after he got to second on a ground out, but Buehler escaped without damage again. The 4th saw a threat yet again thanks to a one-out walk and a stolen base, then another walk to put a runner into scoring position, but Buehler then got the next two batters for an all-too-common escape.
After consecutive 1-2-3 innings from the Dodgers that worked just 24 pitches from Fried, prevented a repeat of that in the 5th by leading the frame off with a homer off a hanging breaking ball on an 0-2 count to tie the game at 1-1.
Buehler managed his first 1-2-3 inning in the 5th, and Dave Roberts tried to get a few more outs from him by letting him start the 6th. Hard to blame a manager for that choice given seven games in a row, but it quickly proved a mistake after back-to-back singles, and that was the end of his night.
On a night where he didn’t have his command, as evidenced by five walks and 100 pitches in five frames, he also allowed just three hits and the one run on the early dinger while striking out seven.
Of course, the reason he only allowed a run is because Brusdar Graterol saved him in the 6th on just six pitches to get out of a jam.
Fried was a bit better than Buehler, also allowing just a run but in six innings on 96 pitches and nine strikeouts, limiting the Dodgers lineup to four hits and two walks.
Dustin May entered in the 7th and cruised through a perfect frame that included a strikeout. However, the 8th was a different story, as he surrendered a lead-off double. May rebounded with a ground out and a strikeout, but Dave Roberts and his intentional walk fetish led to two runners on, which backfired when the Braves pinch-hit Pablo Sandoval who got hit by a pitch to load things up.
That led to Victor Gonzalez entering to get Nick Markakis and Brian Snitker responded by going to Charlie Culberson. Gonzalez came up big as he had all year, getting the strikeout on four pitches to keep things tied.
Blake Treinen, the prospective closer, had an absolute disaster. He gave up a massive dong to Austin Riley on a terrible pitch, gave up a double to Ronald Acuna Jr., gave up a deep fly to Freeman that’s probably gone in other parks, then surrendered a single to Marcell Ozuna to make it 3-1.
Meanwhile, the Braves pen was dominating. Chris Martin, the other Will Smith, and Mark Melacon cruised through the final nine outs of the game as the Dodgers offense was neutered to a total of four hits and two walks on the night with 11 strikeouts.