Mookie Betts and Will Smith hit home runs, Walker Buehler pitched into the fifth inning on short rest, and the Los Angeles Dodgers forced a deciding fifth game of the National League Division Series with a 7-2 victory over the visiting San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.
The first playoff series between the longtime rivals, both 100-plus-game winners this season, is even at two wins apiece, with Game 5 set for Thursday at San Francisco. The winner advances to a NL Championship Series matchup with the Atlanta Braves, who eliminated the Milwaukee Brewers earlier Tuesday.
After taking the loss in Game 1 on Friday, Buehler (1-1) returned on three days’ rest for the first time in his career to give up one run on three hits over 4 1/3 innings in Game 4. He struck out four and walked two.
“I actually felt great … probably the best I have in the second half of the year,” Buehler said postgame on TBS. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but tonight I feel pretty good.”
Betts added, “I just know that when our backs are against the wall, we’ve got a guy, Walker Buehler, who’ll get us out of it.”
Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani (0-1) lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while facing 10 batters in his first career postseason appearance. He fanned two without issuing a walk.
The Dodgers’ Gavin Lux had two hits and two walks in four trips to the plate during his first start of the series. Los Angeles won despite going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranding 11 runners.
Joe Kelly (1-0) got the last two outs in the fifth inning and was credited with the win.
Dodgers first baseman/center fielder Cody Bellinger said, “We knew we didn’t want this to be our last game, especially at home. We came out, stuck with our plan, executed our plan really well — and we really wanted to take this back to San Francisco.”
Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead three batters into the bottom of the first, getting a one-out single from Corey Seager followed by an RBI double from Trea Turner. The Dodgers made it 2-0 in the second inning on a sacrifice fly from Chris Taylor.
Betts increased the Los Angeles advantage to 4-0 in the fourth with a two-run home run to right off Giants left-hander Jarlin Garcia, his first long ball of the postseason.
After the Giants broke through with a fifth-inning run on a groundout from Darin Ruf, the Dodgers got a sacrifice fly from Betts in the bottom of the inning for a 5-1 advantage.
Kris Bryant had an RBI groundout for the Giants in the eighth. Smith hit a two-run home run for the Dodgers in the bottom of the eighth, his second homer of the series.
Seven Giants relievers saw action, while five Dodgers relievers gave up one run over the final 4 2/3 innings.
The Giants are trying to reach their first NLCS since 2014, while the Dodgers are trying to advance to their fifth NLCS in six seasons.
San Francisco catcher Buster Posey said, “I feel like our team and the Dodgers’ team have both been playing meaningful games for a while now. Obviously this one coming up on Thursday is the most meaningful to this point, and it should be fun.”
Giants manager Gabe Kapler, looking ahead to Game 5, said, “I’m sure it will be a lively atmosphere. It will be nice to get back to Oracle (Park) and have the support of our fans. We look forward to it.”
–Field Level Media