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Dodgers defeat Braves 6-2, clinch spot in NLCS

They’ll face the Brewers starting Friday.

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves had to beat the Dodgers for the second night in a row to extend their season and they did not do that. Thanks mostly to a Manny Machado home run, the Dodgers clinched a third consecutive trip to the NLCS. This is the first year of the three they won’t be playing the Cubs.

Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Ozzie Albies were cold again, which isn’t the only reason the Braves lost this one but it certainly didn’t help things. They got things going every few innings but couldn’t convert more often than they brought runners home.

The good news is they are still a very young, talented team and while there’s never a guarantee a team will be able to make it back to the postseason they have a great chance to do it next year and make it even farther. The Dodgers, meanwhile, will get to face the Brewers in the NLCS starting on Friday and have a rested Clayton Kershaw to use at the start of the series.

If you missed any of the action from the game, we live blogged it in full below so just scroll down and catch up on the nine innings that ended Atlanta’s 2018 season.

Braves vs. Dodgers NLDS Game 4 Live Results

Hi there! Whitney McIntosh here, ready to live blog NLDS Game 4. The Braves hope to stave off elimination after just doing so on Sunday and the Dodgers hope to put this series away so they can have a fresh Clayton Kershaw for the beginning of the NLCS.

Want to read from the beginning of the game? Scroll down to the “1st inning” label and read up from there!

9th inning: AJ Minter is the ninth inning pitcher for Atlanta, and he’ll face Max Muncy first in his quest to keep the lead the same for when his team comes to the plate. Muncy strikes out swinging and it’s Machado’s turn, trying to improve on his 2-for-4 night. After a 10-pitch at bat he flies out to center and his night is most likely over (barring ... oh god so much would have to happen).

He did his job though, and the Dodgers can thank him for the runs he did bring to the plate. Grandal goes down swinging and Atlanta officially has three outs to score four or more runs to save their season.

Acuña grounds out, and they’re down to two outs. Kenley Jansen is on the mound so this isn’t going to be an easy comeback attempt for the Braves. He dispatches Albies too, who strikes out swinging and gets the Braves down to their last out. Freeman ends it by doing the same, and the Dodgers are once again going to the NLCS.

8th inning: Tony Kemp hits for Ferguson and is a quick out. Pederson hits a single to the outfield and then tries to stretch it to a double and, in the most useful he’s been all night, Nick Markakis lays the tag on and Joc is out. The play is reviewed to see if the tag was late and only looked like it got there from some angles, but he is indeed out.

Turner grounds out to second to end the inning for LA.

Kenta Maeda is in for the Dodgers to try and keep the lead at four as the game nears its end, and starts off strong by striking out Camargo. Turner once again makes a composed play at third as he waits for a bouncing grounder to come to him before making the long throw across the diamond. With two down Inciarte shoots one into shallow center but it’s only a single as Bellinger gets to it in time to cut him off from trying for a double.

Culberson then imitates his teammate and also drives one to center, getting Inciarte to third with Lucas Duda coming to the plate to see if he can bring a run or two home. Maeda helps Duda out by not giving him a pitch to swing at until the fourth one he throws, and on the fifth one Duda crushes the ball and it goes so, so far until it lands foul. Puig makes sure everyone knows it’s foul by giving the signal right field, because he’s a helper.

Duda hits the next ball hard too but it travels more vertically than it does longitudinally and it’s an easy pop fly to end the inning. Three more outs for the Braves to extend their season, and for the Dodgers to ensure Clayton Kershaw is fresh as a daisy for the NLCS.

7th inning: Justin Turner gets on with a single to right off of new Braves pitcher Chad Sobotka, and then Max Muncy walks on four pitches. Which sends Brian Snitker out to the mound to check on his pitcher, but apparently whatever he said didn’t help a lick because after a few foul balls Manny Machado jacks one to left and just like that it’s 6-2 Dodgers.

Grandal grounds out, but Hernández walks to bring Bellinger to the plate, which brings Snitker back out for a pitching change. Maybe too little too late on that decision, skip, but at least he made the decision to get a fresh arm in there at all.

Julio Teheran is the next sacrifice reliever for Atlanta and even though Hernández steals second in between during the latter’s at bat he strikes out Bellinger and Puig in order to end the inning and keep the deficit to four for now.

Baez starts the seventh, and gets Albies to ground out to second. Acuña and Albies are a combined 1-for-8 with a strikeout in Game 4 which is not what you’d like to see from the two young stars at the top of the batting order. Caleb Ferguson comes in to face Freeman, so maybe the Braves can get something going off of him. His first pitch is a jersey-brusher that backs Freeman off the plate but that’s the only shakiness Freeman gets to see from Ferguson as he grounds out to second.

Markakis has a pop up that might have dropped in if Cody Bellinger wasn’t so fast sprinting in from center to snag it. Someone probably would have gotten to it regardless. Outs are dwindling for the Braves and their early-game luck seems to have evaporated.

6th inning: Grandal flies out to start the inning, so that Dodgers rally isn’t starting just yet. But maybe it is with Kiké sliding a grounder through the left side for a nice single. Can Cody Bellinger keep that trend going? Is this live blog going to get weirder now that I’ve taken an extra large dose of DayQuil?

The answer to the first question is no, as Bellinger hits a fielders choice single that gets Kiké out. Luckily Puig hits a single to right field that no one can get to, and thanks to that perfect placement Bellinger gets all the way to third. That will end Venters’ day as David Freese comes in to pinch hit for Madsen, and the Braves swap in Brad Brach to face him.

Little known fact, when the new Braves’ pitcher makes a tray of cookies that taste weird it’s Brad Brach’s Bad Batch. Guess we’ve answered the Dayquil question, eh?

Puig steals second to put himself into scoring position in the hopes that Freese can bring him home along with Bellinger, and Freese does exactly that. He slots a grounder just out of reach of Culberson at short, bringing two runs home and putting the Dodgers in the lead again, this time 3-2.

That will be the only score change this inning as Joc Pederson comes up and lines out to third to end the inning.

Pedro Baez is now on the mound for the Dodgers and that sound you heard is a bunch of LA fans cracking a beer. Culberson couldn’t make an out when he should have, and then gets an out when he doesn’t as he starts the bottom of the inning popping out to second. Ryan Flaherty pinch hits for Max Friend, and Turner comes all the way from third to the near the first base line to catch his pop up for the second out. Baez retires Acuña too, who flies out to left. Three innings left for the inning to change again. Or a few more times.

5th inning: Jonny Venters is on the mound for the Braves now and he’ll start with the top of the order. Kiké Hernández swings so hard his helmet almost comes off, but he goes down swinging. Justin Turner draws a walk, but Max Muncy (that funky muncy) hits a grounder to the right side and the Braves easily erase the lead runner.

Machado grounds out to second and it’s now the Dodgers who are having trouble getting something going with a runner or two on base.

Rich Hill returns to the mound in the fifth, which kind of makes sense as he’s only at 68 pitches but also doesn’t because ... see the fourth inning. Albies pops out, but Freeman gets on thanks to a hard hit ball to third that Turner can’t corral. and Nick Markakis has the chance to turn around his poor offense in this series. He walks (progress!) and the Dodgers huddle up at the mound for pep talk time.

Hill gets Camargo to ground to short but Machado can’t make the play and all runners are safe. With the bases loaded and only one out, Rich Hill’s day is done and Ryan Madson will take his place.

Madson handles Flowers, who hits a pop up in foul ground. Inciarte really wants to hit the baseball (don’t we all?) but when he finally does he pops up to shallow left and Machado snags it with ease. The Dodgers get through a major jam and will now hope to get the lead back in the sixth.

4th inning: The fourth frame starts with a one-pitch out as Grandal pops out to third. Hernández hits one the same direction and is barely out at first as Freddie Freeman wrangles an off-target through in time to get his foot on the bag. Bellinger walks just as it looked like Folty found his command, and it’ll be up to Puig to see if he can make Atlanta pay for that walk.

Bellinger makes it easier for Puig to bring him home by easily stealing second, and then the Braves intentionally walk Puig to bring Rich Hill to the plate. Who swings at the first pitch like he would like a shoulder dislocation for Christmas. After fouling five straight pitches off, he finally strikes out swinging so the Braves’ strategy did, indeed, work out.

That at bat might have tired Hill out a little, as he walks Camargo and Flowers back to back. This is definitely not a trend when Rich Hill gets even close to the third time through the order, so let’s blame it on his exhausting at bat. Yeah. With runners on first and second and no outs, the Dodgers make a mound visit but keep Hill in.

Ender Inciarte hits a sacrifice to third, with the runners advancing and now one out on the board. The Dodgers have faith in Hill against Charlie Culberson as well, who hits a ground ball right at Justin Turner. Turner looks Camargo back to third and then makes the out at first. Kurt Suzuki comes up to bat, which means Folty is done for the day.

Suzuki singles to left which brings home all the runners on base and makes it 2-1 Braves. Rich Hill gets Acuña to ground out to third but the damage is done and the Braves finally convert runners on base to runs in Game 4.

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

3rd inning: It’s bushy beard versus bushy beard to start the third, with Justin Turner’s mountain man facial hair facing off against Folty’s more tamed follicular madness. They’re both glorious though. Folty comes out the winner in this matchup of amazing whiskers, as Turner pops out to center.

John Smoltz has some strong thoughts about Folty keeping a laminated card in his pocket as a mini scouting report on the competition. Good thing Max Muncy is batting so we don’t have to listen to Smoltz. Muncy strikes out, and Machado is up again. Without the benefit of baserunners on this time, although that doesn’t mean he can’t do some damage. He doesn’t do any damage, lining out center, and that’s a quick third for the Braves.

Folty doesn’t fare as well at the plate against Hill as Hill did against him, and strikes out. Acuña does a really good Folty impression and strikes out looking as well. Can Albies change the theme of the inning? He can! Albies hits a bouncer down the middle of the diamond that neither Hill or Hernández can get a hand on in time to make a play. Bit of a lucky bounce but luck is one thing the Braves haven’t really been blessed with this series so I can’t imagine they’re complaining.

Freddie Freeman walks, which gives Nick Markakis an opportunity to get something on the board for the Braves. That’s not what happens though as he pops up to third and the inning is over. We’re a third of the way through the game and the Braves still look a little stagnant, but they’re getting more going against Hill.

2nd inning: Kiké Hernandez is up first for the Dodgers in the second, and he pops out to Markakis in left. Folty then walks Bellinger, and it’s more apparent in the second than the first that he doesn’t have his command today. That’s ... not great! Seeing as “being able to hit his spots” is the thing Atlanta needed their starter to be able to do today.

Yasiel Puig fouls a pitch off his ankle but that doesn’t keep him from lining a single to left, putting men on first and second with one out and Folty looking shaky. Rich Hill lays down a nice sac bunt to the mound and hoofs it to first emphatically, but he’s out. He successfully moves the runners over though and now Joc Pederson will look to bring one or both of them home.

He strikes out swinging, stranding two in scoring position and letting Folty out of a jam.

Tyler Flowers pops out to first, starting this inning where the Braves finished the last. Ender Inciarte grounds out, which brings up Charlie Culberson and the excess amount of time Joe Daivs and John Smoltz have to break down Hill’s career should let you know how quiet Atlanta’s bats are thus far. Culberson does not break that streak for the Braves and goes down swinging. Something has to give if the Braves want to have a chance.

1st inning: It’s Mike Foltynewicz on the mound for Atlanta which did...not go the way the Braves wanted it to in Game 1. But they’re trying it again. He was their best starter this year so it’s not hard to see why they’re chancing him again in the hopes he looks better this start.

He kicks things off by striking out Joc Pederson with a mean slider for his 3-2 pitch. Joc thought it was ball four but the ump said he went around and he has to stop jogging down the first base line and head to the dugout.

Justin Turner takes the first pitch he sees and drives it to center, but right into Cody Bellinger’s glove. Folty walks Max Muncy, which brings Manny Machado to the plate. Who immediately hits one hard down the left field line, also the first pitch he sees, a double that brings Muncy all the way home from first. Just like that it’s 1-0 Dodgers.

Yasmani Grandal strikes out to end the inning, but the Braves have to be hoping Folty locks things down a little more in the second if they want to keep things close early in this game.

Rich Hill has the start for the Dodgers, and he’ll face Ronald Acuña, Jr. first thing. Acuña saved the Braves’ season with an early grand slam on Sunday — the youngest player to hit one in postseason history. Acuña lines out to second, bringing up Ozzie Albies. You know, the Braves other wunderkind.

Albies flies out to center, but Freddie Freeman drives one to center as well and Cody Bellinger can’t get there to make the catch even with a committed slide. Next is Nick Markakis, who is hitting .100 in the postseason and is one of the people Atlanta probably needs to turn it around if they want to have a chance. He walks, bringing up Johan Camargo who is 0-for-12 in the playoffs.

He pops foul on the first base side and Max Muncy handles it with ease. Braves strand two, but their bats are alive-ish.