Like Game 1, the Braves and Dodgers entered the ninth inning of Game 2 in a stalemate. Like Game 1, the Braves were the ones who came up with the pivotal hit in the end.

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud opened the bottom of the ninth with a broken-bat single off flamethrower Brusdar Graterol. Shortstop Dansby Swanson bunted into a force out at second. Swanson moved to second with a groundout.

The Dodgers pulled Graterol for closer Kenley Jansen. Outfielder Eddie Rosario then hit a ball that bounced off infielder Corey Seager’s glove and into the outfield, ending the game. The Braves won 5-4 Sunday at Truist Park.

Just like that, the Braves have built a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. And they’ll head to Los Angeles with pressure mounting on their opponent.

“It’s very important for me,” said Rosario, whose teams hadn’t won a postseason series until this October. “It’s unbelievable for the team. I think this is something that, we all have that dream, that desire to get to the World Series. And for me, it’s especially large and I think that’s just what we’re going for.”

The Braves entered the eighth down 4-2. The Dodgers called upon left-handed starter Julio Urias in a pitching strategy that would fail them. Rosario greeted Urias with an opposite-field single. Rosario scored on second baseman Ozzie Albies’ single, just evading the throw to the plate.

Braves leftfielder Eddie Rosario slides into home plate to score a run ahead of the tag by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith during the eighth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton /

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Credit: Curtis Compton

An out later, enter third baseman Austin Riley, who’s gone scorched earth in October. Riley won Game 1 on a walk-off hit. He tied Game 2 with a double to the center-field wall, his third extra-base hit of the series already.

Score it a victory for third-base coach Ron Washington and his aggressive sends. And mark it a loss for the oft-lauded Dodgers brain trust, who saw their decision to use Urias implode.

“We love the aggressiveness because that’s how you’re going to go for scoring runs,” Albies said. “If you’re playing scared you’re never going to push the guys to score the important runs for the team.”

The game seemed to heavily favor the Dodgers after the top of the seventh, when the Braves’ trouble started with a common culprit: a lead-off walk. Lefty Tyler Matzek committed the sin this time, losing a 10-pitch battle with former MVP Mookie Betts. Matzek, a star of the Braves’ playoff run, followed by fanning Seager. Betts stole second base.

Matzek then struck out second baseman Trea Turner. He intentionally walked catcher Will Smith, triggering a game of chess that resulted in Braves reliever Luke Jackson facing Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. Jackson plunked Turner with a slider, loading the bases.

Jackson, whose propensity for escaping jams has saved the Braves countless times throughout the season, couldn’t keep the game tied. Chris Taylor, who’s already proven a menace in this series, popped a ball that dropped in front of center fielder Guillermo Heredia, who’d just entered the game as part of a double switch.

A ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor falls gets by Braves center fielder Guillermo Heredia, scoring two runs, during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin /

Credit: Hyosub Shin

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Credit: Hyosub Shin

The ball eluded Heredia’s glove, requiring the outfielder to retrieve it from further back in the outfield, but the damage was going to be two runs regardless. Taylor’s hit was one for which the Dodgers desperately searched throughout the evening. It still wasn’t enough.

Seager put the Braves in an early hole with a two-run homer off starter Ian Anderson before an out was recorded. Anderson allowed two runs across his first five postseason starts (23-2/3 innings). He’d surrendered the same amount through six pitches Sunday.

Anderson’s first-inning woes persisted. The right-hander had a 6.38 ERA in the opening frame during the regular season (24 innings). He required 28 pitches in the inning.

The 23-year-old needed just 10 pitches to retire the Dodgers in order in the ensuing frame. After allowing two baserunners in the third – though Anderson escaped unscathed – manager Brian Snitker turned to his bullpen, which allowed one hit in six frames. Anderson’s three-inning outing was the shortest of his postseason career.

“I told him, just looking at this and all, it just doesn’t feel like it’s going to get any better,” Snitker said. “You know what, the biggest thing I told him, it’s okay. That happens. That’s not a big deal. We’ll tee it up again in four, five days. I know it’s postseason, but these guys are on rotation, on their turn and all that, and it’s still a baseball game. Not everything’s perfect about that. He’ll regroup and come out and make his next start and be good.”

After years of benefiting from “Joctober,” the Dodgers learned what it felt like to be on the other side in the fourth inning. Outfielder Joc Pederson smacked a Max Scherzer curveball into the top of the Chop House, erasing the Dodgers’ two-run lead.

Pederson yelled “I’m a bad mother (expletive)” while returning to the dugout. He was understandably fired up for striking against the team that bid him farewell in free agency last winter. Pederson’s blast was 112 mph off the bat and traveled 454 feet, making it the longest home run of the 2021 postseason.

“I think that this is a lot bigger than me, this is 26 of us pulling and having one common goal,” said Pederson, who spent seven seasons with Los Angeles. “Obviously I’ve been a part of the Dodgers for a long time and they’re a really good team and organization, but right now they’re in the way of our common goal so we kind of have to do whatever we can to win ball games.”

The Cy Young favorite Scherzer didn’t make it past the fifth inning, with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts going to his bullpen with one out in the frame. Scherzer, who’d thrown 79 pitches and exhibited a velocity dip, exited the mound to a chorus of cheers from the 41,873 at Truist Park.

Deja vu abound: Just like a year ago, the Braves have a 2-0 lead. They’re two wins from the World Series. They’ve ensured, even if the worst-case scenario unfolds in California, they’ll host a Game 6 (and potentially Game 7) at Truist Park.

“I think just the momentum that we’ve built,” Riley said when asked how this 2-0 lead differs from the one the Braves held a year ago. “We were up on them 2-0 last year, so it’s like one of those things where you can’t stop now, you got to continue to apply the pressure and come out every day and get after it.”

These Braves continue defying logic. They haven’t played their best in this series. Neither have the Dodgers, who are 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and have to answer for some questionable pitching decisions. The difference is the Braves have now built a cushion. Even with first baseman Freddie Freeman struggling - he’s 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts - and his team’s missed opportunities, the Braves have the upper hand.

Game 3 — one in which the Braves can put the Dodgers in a near insurmountable hole — will be Tuesday in Los Angeles. Battle-tested veteran Charlie Morton will start for the Braves against Dodgers righty Walker Buehler.