NLCS Game 6 at a glance: How the Braves won the pennant

Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario celebrates his three-run home run during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park on Saturday night. (Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com)
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Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario celebrates his three-run home run during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park on Saturday night. (Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton

What you need to know about the Braves’ 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park on Saturday night:

Headed to the World Series

For the first time in 22 years, the Braves are going to the World Series. They clinched the NL pennant by eliminating the Dodgers four games to two in the best-of-seven series. A huge home run by Eddie Rosario and dominant performances by left-handed relievers A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith led the way.

The World Series opens Tuesday in Houston.

Rosario’s blast

Rosario’s splendid postseason got even better. In a 1-1 game with two outs and two runners on base in the fourth inning, he fouled off three two-strike pitches from Dodgers starter Walker Buehler before lining a three-run homer to right field to give the Braves a sudden 4-1 lead.

Rosario, who has a 10-game hitting streak this postseason, broke the Braves’ franchise record for most hits in an NLCS, topping Javy Lopez’s 13 in 1996. In the NLCS, Rosario was 14-for-25 (.560) with three homers, nine RBIs and a 1.647 OPS, earning MVP honors for the series.

Matzek dominant

The Dodgers trimmed the Braves’ lead to 4-2 in the seventh inning off Luke Jackson, who faced three batters and got none of them out. But Matzek, exceptional for two seasons and at his best this postseason, then entered the game with no outs and runners on second and third bases.

Matzek struck out three consecutive batters – future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols on a slider, Steven Souza on a 98-mph fastball and former MVP Mookie Betts on three consecutive 97-plus-mph fastballs -- to strand the runners. Back on the mound in the eighth, Matzek worked a 1-2-3 inning.

He has pitched in nine of the Braves’ 10 postseason games and has held the opponent scoreless in all but one of his appearances. He has allowed only two runs and four hits while striking out 17 in 10-1/3 innings.

Minter, too

The first Braves reliever of the night, Minter, retired all six batters he faced in the fifth and sixth innings, striking out four of them. He has pitched in five games this postseason, allowing no runs and two hits and striking out 11 in 7-1/3 innings.

Key decision

The Braves’ game-turning fourth-inning rally began with a two-out walk to Travis d’Arnaud and then a key strategic decision. Manager Brian Snitker opted to lift starting pitcher Ian Anderson for pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza.

On the second pitch he saw from Buehler, Adrianza lined a broken-bat double down the right-field line, putting runners on second and third bases for Rosario’s homer.

Notable

-- Smith, the Braves’ closer, worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to clinch the NLCS and is 4-for-4 in save opportunities this postseason.

-- The NL pennant is the Braves’ sixth since moving to Atlanta in 1966. The others were in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999.

-- The Braves rebounded strongly from an 11-2 loss in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium and haven’t lost back-to-back games since Sept. 14-18.

-- The Braves are undefeated at Truist Park this postseason, winning five of five games there.

-- After going 0-for-13 in Games 3, 4 and 5 in Los Angeles, Austin Riley was 2-for-5 in Game 6, including a first-inning RBI double to put the Braves up 1-0.

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