MILWAUKEE – Justin Turner homered in the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for four late runs to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3, in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday at Miller Park.
The best-of-seven series is tied at a game apiece. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday at Dodger Stadium. Right-handers Jhoulys Chacín for the Brewers and rookie Walker Buehler for the Dodgers are expected as the starting pitchers.
For the second consecutive game, an otherwise dormant Dodgers offense rose up in the late innings against Milwaukee’s bullpen. On Friday night, they finished a run short. Less than a day later, Turner’s two-run home run against reliever Jeremy Jeffress erased the last of what had been a 3-0 deficit.
The Brewers had won 12 consecutive games, dating to Sept. 23.
The Dodgers’ bullpen, which limited the Brewers to one run in the final four innings of Game 1, shut out the Brewers in the final three innings of Game 2. Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his second save of the postseason, retiring likely NL MVP Christian Yelich on a broken-bat grounder to end the game with a baserunner at second base.
They rode those two home runs and took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning, by then having turned over the game to their bullpen. The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the seventh and scored on a single by Cody Bellinger, who’d been hitless in 17 at-bats, and a walk to backup catcher Austin Barnes. Yasmani Grandal, among those responsible for the Dodgers’ loss in Game 1 and manager Dave Roberts’ last available position player, grounded into a double play to end the seventh with the bases still loaded.
In the eighth, Chris Taylor led off with an infield single and Turner, who was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in Game 1, homered well into the seats in left field.
For some odd reason, the Dodgers did not hit left-handers well in the regular season. This, in spite of several regular platoons designed to defend themselves against such radical splits. No National League team was more productive against righties. Lefties were tricky, however, which brought us to Wade Miley, the Brewers’ starting pitcher in Game 2.
Miley, 31, was in 2018 a good lefty. His ERA in 16 starts, an oblique injury shortened his season, was 2.57. In the four seasons before that, with Arizona, Boston, Seattle and Baltimore, Miley was pitching himself onto the fringes of the league. His ERA was nearly 5. The difference was the cut fastball, a pitch he almost never threw, then threw occasionally last season, then threw nearly half the time in 2018. Right-handed batters hit .240 against Miley this season. In, say, 2015, they batted 32 points higher. In 2016, 61 points higher.
It’s what a few inches on the bat barrel will get a pitcher. That, and a spidery center fielder.
In the first inning, Turner, a right-handed hitter, against a cutter on his hands, drooled a single past the first-base bag. David Freese, the next batter, homered to right-center field, except center fielder Lorenzo Cain went elbow-high over the wall to bring it back.
Hyun-jun Ryu, like Miley, was largely unchallenged into the middle innings. The Dodgers’ most reliable starter down the stretch, Ryu pitched seven scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the Division Series. In his past four starts, including that one, Ryu has allowed one run on 16 hits and two walks over 26 innings. The zeroes kept coming against the Brewers, who put up five runs on Clayton Kershaw (and friends) in the early innings of Game 1 here.
The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, when Arcia, a shortstop who hit three home runs in 366 plate appearances in the regular season, who hit one in 13 prior plate appearances this postseason, who bats eighth for the Brewers, homered off Ryu to the biggest part of Miller Field – dead center. With one out in the fifth, Ryu started Arcia with a cutter, down in the zone. There wouldn’t be another pitch in the at-bat. Arcia hit a long fly ball to center field. Taylor, the Dodgers center fielder, chased it to the fence. The ball fell just over Taylor’s head, just over the fence, and it was then that Ryu became, quite suddenly, hittable.
Miley, the pitcher, who’d earlier doubled against Ryu, lined a single to right-center field. Cain, the leadoff hitter, doubled hard to left.
Unchallenged through 60 pitches, Ryu was done after 72. The Brewers led, 2-0, on a ground-ball out by Ryan Braun, and for the second consecutive game the Dodgers were into their bullpen far earlier than they’d expected, this time before the Brewers were into theirs.
Shaw, a left-handed hitter who often sits against left-handed pitchers, homered against Dodgers lefty Alex Wood in the sixth for the Brewers’ third run.
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