LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trailing 2-0 in the NL Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the Atlanta Braves right where they want them. At their house.
The Braves’ last win at Dodger Stadium was June 9, 2018. They’ve lost nine straight in Los Angeles, getting swept in a three-game series in late August and were shut out twice in the 2018 NL Division Series.
Going back to the 2013 NLDS, the Braves have dropped 19 of their last 22 in LA.
The Dodgers were an MLB-best 58-23 at home, ending the regular season on franchise-record 15-game winning streak at Chavez Ravine. But as a wild-card team, they don’t have home-field advantage in the NL playoffs despite 107 wins.
The series resumes Tuesday with Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.86 ERA in the postseason) starts for the Braves. Walker Buehler (0-1, 3.38), a 16-game winner in the regular season, takes the mound for the Dodgers.
“If the baseball sayings are right, you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher,” All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer said, “and so we got Walk going on the mound and we definitely believe we can win with him. Our mindset is just win the next game.”
Buehler will start on two extra days' rest after opening Game 4 of the NLDS on short rest a week ago. The Cy Young Award contender has proven to be reliable in big games, with a 2.50 ERA in 13 postseason starts.
The Dodgers have been down before against Atlanta. Playing last postseason at a neutral site in Texas, they overcame a 1-3 deficit to beat the Braves in the NLCS. LA went on to win its first World Series championship since 1988.
Game 4 is Wednesday and a possible Game 5 the following day, cutting out any rest for the bullpen and seemingly making it harder for the Dodgers to use their starters in relief, as they did in the first two games.
The Dodgers are 1 for 18 with runners in scoring position and they had six runs and 14 hits in the first two games.
Still, both came down to the bottom of the ninth.
The Dodgers' big hitters — Corey Seager, NL batting champion Trea Turner and Mookie Betts — have yet to get going. The team hit 237 homers — fourth-best in the majors — during the regular season, but has just seven in this postseason.
“I think in this in that particular instance it’s an approach thing,” Roberts said. “It’s an approach thing and I think that certain times in scoring position we’re expanding too much.”
The Braves made history as just the second team ever to win the first two games of a League Championship Series on walk-offs, joining the 1969 Baltimore Orioles. Historically, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven postseason major league series go on to win the series 84% of the time.
Along with his teammates, Atlanta slugger Freddie Freeman will be looking to reset in LA. He's 0 for 8 in the series, striking out seven times.
“He can get hot at any moment,” Roberts said.
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Beth Harris, The Associated Press