Braves miss big bases-loaded chance - on 10 pitches

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, center, reacts as he watches the replay of Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (not pictured) making a catch robbing a home run from Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game 6 Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, for the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

It wasn’t 11 runs, but it felt like it.

The Dodgers jumped on the Braves early with three first-inning runs to start Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The pressure was on the Braves from the start. They had chances – very good chances – to answer.

They did not.

The result was a 3-1 loss Saturday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. A deciding Game 7 will be played Sunday night with a trip to the World Series on the line. The best-of-seven series the Braves led 2-0 and 3-1 will go to a final game.

The Dodgers scored early on the strength of back-to-back home runs from Corey Seager and Justin Turner in the bottom of the first Saturday. The three runs weren’t the 11 the team scored in the first inning of the blowout win in Game 3 on Wednesday, but the advantage wasn’t unsurmountable.

The Braves loaded the bases with no outs in top of second after three consecutive singles by Travis d’Arnaud, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson. The table doesn’t get set any better.

But then:

-Austin Riley struck out swinging.

-Nick Markakis struck out looking.

-Cristian Pache grounded out to shortstop.

The threat was over just like that as Dodgers starter Walker Buehler needed only 10 pitches. A collective groan was let out by Braves fans everywhere.

“We couldn’t get a big hit,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We hit some balls good. They didn’t go our way.”

The Braves had another opportunity in the top of the fourth inning. D’Arnaud singled to lead. After Albies struck out, Swanson singled to put runners on first and second. However, Riley lined out to center, and Markakis grounded out to Buehler to end the threat.

“(Buehler) loaded the bases and elevated his game there,” Snitker said. "Obviously, you’d like to get one out of there and couldn’t.

“There were a couple of other times, we had runners on. Austin (Riley) just missed a homer. (Marcell) Ozuna, (Mookie Betts) made a great play. The ball is over a little bit, it’s a home run. You’ve got to do it.”

The Dodgers pulled Buehler after six innings. He allowed just seven hits, all singles, and struck out six. He threw just 89 pitches before manager Dave Roberts turned to his bullpen and Blake Treinen.

Markakis led off the seventh in a tripled down the right-field line. After Pache grounded out to third, Ronald Acuna tripled down the right field line to score Markakis and make it 3-1. Acuna would remain as Freddie Freeman struck out and Ozuna flied out to right field.

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