Dodgers Defeat the Brewers in the N.L.C.S. to Return to the World Series

Dodgers Defeat the Brewers in the N.L.C.S. to Return to the World Series

Miller Park erupted, but the jubilance was soon overtaken.

Leading off the second inning, Machado, the Dodgers’ most talented hitter, worked to a full count against Jhoulys Chacin, the Brewers starting pitcher who had yet to allow a run this postseason.

Machado unexpectedly bunted the ball toward third base and darted to first. Criticized earlier in this series for not hustling to first base on a ground ball, Machado logged his fastest home-to-first time of the season, just under four seconds, according to Statcast data.

As unconventional as Machado’s bunt was, it helped. The next batter, Cody Bellinger, took advantage of Chacin’s uneven command, hitting a fastball over the plate into the second deck in right field. It was the first home run of this postseason for Bellinger, who hit 25 in the regular season.

While rounding the bases, Bellinger flexed his right arm in the direction of the Dodgers dugout.

Given the urgency of the game, Brewers Manager Craig Counsell pulled Chacin from the mound after two innings and replaced him with his best pitching weapon, reliever Josh Hader. The Dodgers managed only two base runners against Hader over three innings. He departed after the fifth inning because, even though he was rested and threw only 31 pitches, his velocity had started to dip.

Once Hader left the game, the Dodgers’ bats again came to life. To lead off the sixth inning, Max Muncy singled off Xavier Cedeno. Justin Turner then singled off Jeremy Jeffress, who was dominant during the regular season but sputtered this postseason. After Bellinger reached on a force out, Puig batted with two outs.

Jeffress hung a curveball, and Puig clobbered it over the center field fence for a 5-1 lead. His blast and animated prance around the bases silenced the home crowd.

But there was perhaps no bigger play than a run-saving catch in the fifth inning by Chris Taylor, when the Dodgers were still up by just 2-1. Taylor’s versatility epitomizes the Dodgers’ roster. He began the season as the center fielder, shifted to shortstop after a season-ending injury to Corey Seager, moved back to the outfield when Machado was acquired in a July trade. He started at second base on Saturday, then moved to left field, where he leapt and stretched to grab a deep fly off Yelich’s bat. Taylor tumbled to the ground after the catch, holding onto the ball and denying the Brewers a tie game.

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