Dodgers, Braves on brink of advancing in baseball playoffsAFP
Washington (AFP) -
The Los Angeles Dodgers exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning Sunday on the way to a 10-4 victory over the Washington Nationals and a commanding lead in their Major League Baseball playoff series.
The Dodgers, trying to get back to the World Series for a third straight year after falling to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox last year, lead their best-of-five National League Division Series two games to one.
Justin Turner's three-run home run capped the sixth-inning outburst that included two-run doubles from catcher Russell Martin and pinch-hitter Enrique Hernandez.
The Dodgers became the first team in major league history to score so many runs in one playoff inning with two outs and two strikes.
The team trailed 2-1 going into the sixth after Juan Soto belted a two-run home run for the Nationals off Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin in the first and Los Angeles' Max Muncy hit a solo homer off Anibal Sanchez in the fifth.
Sanchez, who struck out nine, was replaced for the sixth by Patrick Corbin, who was charged with six runs.
"It felt nice to contribute," said Martin, whose double to deep left center field scored Cody Bellinger and David Freese to open the floodgates in the sixth.
"We have a deep lineup so we kind of just pass the baton along and I came up with that big hit right there, got the guys going and then it just seemed like it was one good at-bat after good-at bat.
"The next thing you know," said Martin, who added a two-run home run in the ninth, "we had seven runs on the board."
The winner of the series will take on either the Atlanta Braves or the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series with a World Series berth at stake.
The Braves rallied with three runs in the ninth inning to beat the Cardinals 3-1 in St. Louis Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in their series.
The Braves, stymied all day by St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright, broke through against Cardinals closing pitcher Carlos Martinez.
Josh Donaldson got the rally going with a double to start the ninth.
After two outs and an intentional walk to catcher Brian McCann, Dansby Swanson tied the game with a double to left field that plated one run.
Adam Duvall, who entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, followed with a single that drove in two runs.
"They never quit," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of his team. "They never give up. The heart and desire and will is unbelievable in those guys."
The Braves took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series and will try to close out the set in game four in St. Louis on Monday.
- 'crazy stuff happens' -
Until the Braves erupted in the ninth, it was a pitching duel in St. Louis.
Atlanta's rookie hurler Mike Soroka limited the Cardinals to one run on two hits while striking out seven in his playoff debut.
St. Louis scored their lone run in the second inning when Marcell Ozuna led off with a double and scored on Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly.
Wainwright, 38, turned back the clock, pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out eight to keep the Cards in front until he exited to a standing ovation but then had to watch from the dugout as the contest slipped away.
"We were one out away and that is exactly what playoff baseball is all about," Wainwright said. "Just crazy stuff happens."