The Braves looked to even the series against the Dodgers on Saturday, after a brutal loss on Friday.
Morton got to a 2-2 count vs Mookie Betts before hitting him in the arm with a curveball. Justin Turner then hit a chopper that Austin Riley was unable to field cleanly, putting men on first and second with no outs. Bellinger grounded into a forceout at second, but a Morton pickoff attempt of Bellinger at sailed over Freeman’s head, scoring Betts from third and advancing Bellinger to second, still with one out. Morton got a popout and a lineout to hold the damage to one run on zero hits. On the offensive side, the Braves were unable to work anything as a Ronald Acuna grounder that was initially ruled safe was overturned and Freddie and Ozzie went down in order. Morton breezed through a 1-2-3 second inning to calm things down after the rough first inning overall for the Braves. Austin Riley led off the home second with a single, but Dansby Swanson struck out before Austin Riley was picked off on what was potentially a balk. Adrianza ended the frame with a soft groundout. Morton mowed the Dodgers down in order in the bottom of the third.
Heredia hit a grounder to a spot that Chris Taylor was unable to field and throw him out from for a leadoff hit in the third. Acuna walked and a hard hit Freddie single to center brought Heredia home, as Freddie advanced to second on the throw home. Ozzie followed Freddie with a double to score Acuna and Freddie, before Riley moved Ozzie to third with a single of his own. Dansby blew the game open with a scorched double on a fastball six inches above the zone, scoring Ozzie and Austin. The two out damage stopped there, as Ehire Adrianza struck out, but the score was now 5-1 Atlanta.
A single and stolen base from Bellinger, followed by a single from Chris Taylor set up runners on the corners with no outs in the fourth. Matt Beaty brought Bellinger home with a single of his own, as Taylor was only able to advance to second. Gavin Lux hit yet another single, loading the bases, still with no outs and this was obviously big trouble. A double play ball from McKinstry scored another run, but was converted to set up a man on third with two outs for Morton versus Austin Barnes. Barnes grounded to a deep-lying Dansby Swanson, who delivered an errant throw to Freeman (because of course), who was unable to bail him out with a tag. The error scored yet another run, leaving the score at 5-4 in favor of the Braves. Morton mercifully struck out Kershaw to quell the bleeding.
A two out hit from Morton was the only offense of the inning, as the Braves position players all struck out...sure. A grounder from Mookie Betts to the right side of the infield turned into an out as Ozzie hustled from right handed batter shift to make the play and the throw on the run. Morton worked around a walk in a scoreless fifth. Freddie hit a single on a dribbler, but the Atlanta offense was unable to add insurance in the bottom of the frame. With the sixth inning came AJ Minter out of the Braves bullpen. AJ allowed a soft leadoff single to Lux, but got a popout and two strikeouts for a scoreless sixth. The bottom of the Atlanta lineup had nothing to say against Kershaw in his final frame. Luke Jackson came in for the seventh and should have had a 1-2-3 inning, but another Austin Riley error allowed Betts to reach and after a Turner flyout Matzek was brought on for the lefty-lefty matchup against Bellinger. Matzek walked Bellinger but struck out Chris Taylor to escape the inning and preserve the one run lead.
Abraham Almonte pinch-hit for Atlanta in the seventh and led off the inning with a homer that he snuck in just inside the right field foul pole with a .080 xBA. Acuna hit an opposite field single and stole second before Freeman walked on four pitches. Ozzie had a brutal strikeout in a plate appearance involving zero pitches in the strike zone and zero called strikes. The Braves decided to move the runners over anyway on a successful double-steal by Acuna and Freeman. Unfortunately Austin Riley also decided to get himself out with a brutal strikeout. Dansby walked to load the bases for Adrianza, but Ehire inexplicably decided to swing on a first pitch ball against a pitcher that had thrown one ball in the strike zone in his last 16 pitches and grounded out softly (48.4 MPH exit velocity) to end the threat.
Chris Martin came in for the eighth and hit the first batter, Chris Taylor. Two flyouts and a groundout that took a nasty bounce to Dansby, requiring an impressive reaction got Martin out of the inning clean. Kevan Smith hit an opposite field grounder for a single with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Panda then grounded into a double play, preventing Acuna from seeing a plate appearance in the eighth.
This set the stage for the top of the ninth, which was started by a matchup of the Will Smiths. This version of the epic matchup ended much better for Atlanta, with a strikeout. The Atlanta Will Smith followed this up with a strikeout of Mookie Betts...and Justin Turner for a clean ninth inning. Impressive work from Smith.
We’ll be back tomorrow for the rubber match against the Dodgers again with a 1:20 PM ET start time.