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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Dodgers' hopes for their first back-to-back World Series championships ended tonight with a 4-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
Eddie Rosario hit a tie-breaking three-run home run with two outs in the fourth inning as the Braves won the best-of-seven series four games to two to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1999.
Atlanta will face the American League champion Houston Astros in the World Series, which will begin Tuesday in Houston.
Right-hander Ian Anderson and four relievers limited the Dodgers to five hits, two over the final 4 1/3 innings, with 14 strikeouts before a crowd at Truist Park in Cumberland, Georgia announced at 43,060.
The loss marked the third time in the series the Dodgers were held to two runs, all losses.
All the runners who scored for the Braves reached base with two outs.
Atlanta opened the scoring in the first when Austin Riley's ground rule double drove in Ozzie Albies, who doubled with two outs.
Walker Buehler threw three consecutive balls to walk Travis d'Arnaud with two outs in the fourth after getting ahead on the count 1-2. The next batter, pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza doubled, the Braves' first pinch hit in 12 at-bats in the NLCS. Rosario followed by hitting a 1-2 cutter over the right field fence for his third home in three games.
Dodger manager Dave Roberts said he kept Buehler in the game because “I just felt right there the way Walker was throwing I expected him to keep going and the stuff wasn't compromised.”
“There was a walk to d'Arnaud, then the broken bat double and I just felt that he had enough stuff to get through that and to keep going,” Roberts said. “He got ahead 0-2 and we just couldn't put him away. I just felt in that moment he was the best option.”
The Dodgers had the potential tying run on second base with none out in the seventh. Chris Taylor, the first batter to face reliever Luke Jackson, led off with a double. Cody Bellinger walked on four pitches. AJ Pollock doubled, driving in Taylor and advancing Bellinger to third.
Tyler Matzek relieved Jackson and struck out Albert Pujols, pinch hitter Steven Souza Jr. and Mookie Betts to end the inning. Matzek struck out Corey Seager to begin the eighth, then retired Trea Turner and Will Smith on ground outs.
“Matzek made pitches when he needed to,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base. The Braves were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base.
Reliever Will Smith retired the Dodgers in order in the eighth, striking out the first two batters he faced, Taylor and Bellinger, for his first save of the series after being credited with the win in each of the first
The Smiths are not related.
Matzek was credited with the victory. He is a 2009 graduate of Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo who was the selected by the Colorado Rockies was the 11th pick in the 2009 MLB draft, reached the majors in 2014 with Colorado, was demoted to Triple-A in 2015 and released by Colorado in 2016.
Matzek was also released by the Chicago White Sox in 2017, Seattle Mariners in 2018 and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2019. The Braves purchased his contract from the Texas AirHogs of the independent American Association in 2019 and he returned to the majors in 2020 with the Braves.
Anderson allowed one run and three hits in four innings, striking out four before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
Buehler was charged with the loss, allowing four runs and seven hits in four innings, striking out six and walking three, pitching on three days rest for the second time in his five-season major league career, both in the 2021 postseason.
Roberts said Buehler pitching “2 1/2 times through the order would be fantastic.” Buehler pitched through the lineup twice, plus three batters, before being pinch hit for.
Max Scherzer had been scheduled to start. The decision not to start him came from “just in talking to him, the training staff, strength and conditioning staff, just seeing where he was at versus where Walker was at, we just felt it was best to give him an extra day,” Roberts said.
Scherzer told reporters Saturday he felt he would be ready to pitch Sunday if the Dodgers won Saturday to extend the series. Roberts said he was “very, very confident” Scherzer would be able to pitch Sunday if there was a game.
The Dodgers tied the score in the fourth. Turner walked with one out, moved to second on Smith's single and scored on Bellinger's two-out single. Pollock popped out to end the inning, stranding Smith at third and Bellinger at first.
Rosario was selected as the MVP of the series, hitting .560 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
“We just couldn't figure him out,” Roberts said. “He beat us the other way. He beat us to the pull side. He got hits off lefties, off righties. We tried to spin him. We went hard. We just didn't have an answer for him and when you've got that big guy (Freddie Freeman) looming behind him it's just kind of tough to pitch around him.”
Rosario's 14 hits matched the record for a championship series along with Pujols when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS, Marco Scutaro of the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 NLCS, Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, and Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS.
The loss ended the Dodgers' seven-game winning streak in elimination games, the third-longest streak in MLB history behind the Giants' 10-game streak from 2012-12 and the Kansas City Royals' eight-game streak from 1985-2014.
The Dodgers were attempting to become the 15th MLB team in 90 attempts to overcome a three games-to-one deficit in a best-of-seven series. The Dodgers overcame a three games-to-one deficit to defeat Atlanta in the 2020 NLCS.