EditorsNote: adds quotes
Manny Machado drove in four runs with a homer and double, and the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the National League Championship Series with a 6-2 victory over the host Atlanta Braves on Monday.
It is the third straight trip to the NLCS for the Dodgers, who won the best-of-five NL Division Series in four games. Their next opponent will be the Brewers, who completed a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the other NLDS. The NLCS begins Friday in Milwaukee.
The Braves were eliminated in their opening round of the postseason for the eighth consecutive time.
Machado, a pending free agent acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in July, hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning off rookie reliever Chad Sobotka. An inning earlier, David Freese had put the Dodgers ahead with a two-run pinch single.
Machado had just three hits in 17 at-bats during the NLDS, but he hit two homers and drove in six runs.
“I stayed with my approach and things turned around,” he said. “Any time you see more pitches, it helps. I was trying to drive in at least one (run in the seventh), and I was able to get one up in the air and drive in three.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Machado, who was acquired in July from the Baltimore Orioles, “I can’t say enough about Manny. He had two big at-bats. We’re lucky to have him. His home runs won two games for us.”
Freese’s two-out hit in the sixth inning came off Brad Brach after Johnny Venters gave up singles to Enrique Hernandez and Yasiel Puig, who stole second to get into scoring position after his bloop hit.
The Dodgers acquired Freese, the 2011 NLCS MVP and World Series MVP for the St. Louis Cardinals, in a midseason trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“This means a lot,” Freese said. “I expected to end up the season in Pittsburgh. Then I ended up here and in the playoffs again. It’s special to be with these guys and be able to come through.”
Machado gave the Dodgers an early lead with an RBI double off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz following a two-out walk in the first inning.
The Braves took advantage of two walks from Dodgers starter Rich Hill to go up 2-1 in the fourth. Kurt Suzuki, who was batting for Foltynewicz, contributed a two-out pinch single to drive in Johan Camargo and Tyler Flowers.
Foltynewicz, who gave up four runs on a pair of homers while lasting just two innings in Game 1, stranded five Dodgers in his four innings in Game 4.
Hill was pulled after the Braves loaded the bases in the fifth with one out on an infield single, a walk and an error, but Ryan Madson (1-0) got out of the jam and ended up as the winning pitcher.
Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson, Kenta Maeda and Kenley Jansen blanked Atlanta the rest of the way. Jansen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out the last two batters to close the series.
The Dodgers shut out the Braves in the first two games at Los Angeles before losing 6-5 on Sunday at Atlanta.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said, “After last night, I thought maybe we could pull this off. But I knew it would be hard to cover all the innings we needed tonight, and we scored only four runs in the series. ...
“They hit homers, and that’s what in the postseason carries teams when it’s hard to string things together. That’s why you can’t walk people. They’re a very powerful team, and we’re not built like that.”
—Field Level Media