Swanson’s home run gave Braves early momentum

Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson hits a solo home run off of Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Tony Gonsolin. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

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

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

Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson hits a solo home run off of Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Tony Gonsolin. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

The Braves were ready to celebrate.

A first-inning run had the dugout elated. An early run against the Dodgers in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series was much needed.

When Dansby Swanson hit a second-inning home run, well that just whipped up a frenzy. Swanson’s blast to center field had Ronald Acuna leaping, Marcell Ozuna taking imaginary selfies and the Braves up by two runs.

The Dodgers advanced to the World Series with a 4-3 victory in the deciding game. Kiki Hernandez and Cody Bellinger delivered the big blows with home runs and Will Smith had a two-run single. Bellinger’s solo home run in the seventh inning broke the tie.

“I don’t think we exceeded expectations,” Freddie Freeman said after the loss. “This is kind of what we expected out of ourselves, to get to this point. We came up short but everybody on this team can lay their head on their pillow and know they gave it everything they had left in the tank.”

The Braves have a postseason rally gesture of Mix It Up and Swanson was right in the middle of a lot in the deciding game Sunday – good and bad.

Swanson hit this third home run of the postseason inning when he crushed a Tony Gonsolin pitch to left centerfield, a no-doubter that traveled 434 feet. The third home run was the most by a Braves shortstop in a postseason. It was also the first homer by a shortstop in a Game 7 since Oakland’s Bert Campaneris in the 1973 World Series.

The Braves needed the early lift. The Dodgers forced a Game 7 with back-to-back wins after the Braves took a 3-1 series lead. Momentum was on Los Angeles' side.

The Dodgers tied the game with two runs in the third inning.

An inning later, the Braves ran themselves out of a potentially big inning. Ozzie Albies walked and stole second and Swanson walked too. Austin Riley followed with a single to score Albies and give the Braves the lead. Swanson moved to third and Riley to second on a wild pitch. Nick Markakis grounded to third baseman Justin Turner. Swanson broke for home, was caught in a rundown and tagged out. To make matters worse, Riley was tagged out at third behind the play. Cristian Pache grounded out to end the inning.

“It was huge," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It’s hard to score runs in the postseason. When you have a situation like that … the infield is back and you see the ball up the middle. We are normally a very good baserunning team. We just did some fundamental things wrong.”

Swanson, who went 3-for-4 in Game 6, also walked, struck out and grounded out in the deciding game.

The Braves were held to just three hits in the deciding game. All three produced runs with Swanson’s home run and singles by Ozuna and Riley. Only one hit came after Swanson’s home run.

“We made some mistakes," Snitker said. "We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times that really hurt. Games like these, runs are so hard to come by. You pretty much have to play flawless baseball.”

Swanson has been steady for the Braves this season. He hit .274 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs during the regular season. He hit .269 during the postseason.