Cody Bellinger lined a one-out, go-ahead single in the top of the ninth inning Thursday night, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers to the National League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory over the host San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the NL Division Series.
In a contest that would be the season’s last for one of the two winningest teams in the majors, the Dodgers rode Mookie Betts’ 4-for-4 performance and the combined six-hitter of six pitchers to the fifth NLCS berth in six years.
Los Angeles will visit the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series on Saturday.
After the Dodgers and Giants traded runs in the sixth inning, Justin Turner got the Los Angeles ninth rolling when he was hit by a pitch from Camilo Doval (0-1) with one out.
Gavin Lux moved Turner to second with a single, and when Bellinger knocked his hit into center field, Turner dashed home with the decisive run.
Bellinger said postgame on TBS, “I really do want to be in that moment. (Doval’s) got really, really good stuff. I was down two strikes and just tried to stay within my approach. Felt good the last three or four pitches I saw; I just missed them. I tried to stay a little bit simpler and got the job done.
“Just a good pitch for me to hit. I saw it well. I missed a lot of pitches in this game, so it’s nice to get that one.”
After closer Kenley Jansen (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth, Cy Young Award candidate Max Scherzer came out of the Dodgers’ bullpen and overcame a one-out error by third baseman Turner in the ninth for his first career save.
The game ended when Wilmer Flores was called out on a borderline check swing for strike three.
“Obviously you don’t want a game to end like that,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “These (umpires) work really hard to make the right calls. Obviously it’s going to be frustrating to have a game end like that. Pretty high-quality batter at the plate who can climb back into the count. …
“But there are other reasons we didn’t win today’s baseball game. That was just the last call of the game.”
The expected pitchers’ duel between Giants right-hander Logan Webb and Dodgers lefty Julio Urias panned out, even after Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts threw a curveball into the equation by starting right-hander Corey Knebel.
Knebel and righty Brusdar Graterol did their part for Roberts, combining for two scoreless innings to start the contest, before the Webb-Urias duel began.
The Dodgers scored first in the sixth when Betts singled with one out, stole second and trotted home on an opposite-field double by Corey Seager.
Webb escaped further damage, and six pitches later, Darin Ruf’s leadoff homer off Urias knotted the game again at 1-1. The 452-foot bomb to center field was the veteran’s first career postseason home run.
Urias, the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the series, was pulled after four innings, having allowed one run and three hits. He struck out five and did not walk anyone.
Webb, who pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in Game 1, was charged with one run on four hits in his seven innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
All four of Betts’ hits were singles for the Dodgers, the defending World Series champions who rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in the series.
Kris Bryant had two hits for the Giants, who were the winningest team in the majors in the regular season with 107 victories. The Dodgers won 106 games in the regular season.
Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner said, “It’s been a grind. We obviously have a good ballclub, and so do they. It’s been back-and-forth all year. You have to move on quickly in baseball. As a team, we believe in ourselves.”
Kapler said of the postgame mood in the Giants’ clubhouse, “There are expressions of appreciation for a job well done and an incredibly successful season that at the end came up a tiny bit short. The Dodgers pitched really well in the series. You gotta tip your cap to the work that they did. They beat us.”
–Field Level Media