Oct. 13 (UPI) — Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley homered and Max Fried silenced the Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star lineup to lead the Atlanta Braves to a win in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
“When you have your No. 1 [pitcher] going, those are the games you most likely have to win,” Freeman told reporters after the 5-1 victory on Monday in Arlington, Texas.
“When [Fried] goes out there and gives that performance, you want to capitalize.”
Fried allowed just four hits and one run in six innings to pace the Braves. Freeman’s solo home run gave the Braves a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Riley hit another go-ahead solo shot in the ninth frame.
Monday’s matchup was the first MLB game played this season with fans in attendance, as previous games did not allow fans as a safety precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic. About 10,700 people attended Game 1 at Globe Life Field.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler allowed three hits and one run in five innings in the loss. The Braves bullpen allowed five hits and four runs over the final four innings.
Buehler forced a pop out from Braves slugger Ronald Acuna in the first at-bat of the game. Freeman then stepped into the batter’s box and fell behind 0-2 in the count. He took a slider for a ball before he smashed a 1-2 fastball to right field for a 429-foot homer.
Fried and Buehler did not allow a run for the next three innings before the Braves tied the score in the bottom of the fifth inning. Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez led off the frame and quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count against Fried.
Hernandez then hacked Fried’s third offering to left field for a 393-foot solo homer to tie the score at 1-1.
Buehler allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the sixth inning. Brusdar Graterol then entered the game in relief of the Dodgers starter and escaped the inning without allowing a run. Fried was replaced by relief pitcher Chris Martin in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Neither team managed to get a hit in the seventh frame. The Braves offense woke up in the top of the ninth inning.
Riley stepped into the batter’s box to lead off the inning against Dodgers relief pitcher Blake Treinen. He got a swinging strike before he fouled off the next two pitches.
Riley then ripped a 1-2 sinker to left center field for a 448-foot solo homer. The blast left his bat at 110 mph and took five seconds to clear the outfield fence, according to Statcast.
Marcell Ozuna hit an RBI single to right field two at-bats later. Ozzie Albies also added a two-run homer in the half-inning. Albies homer traveled 420 feet.
Braves relief pitcher Mark Melancon forced ground outs from Max Muncy, Will Smith and Cody Bellinger in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure the victory.
Second baseman Ozzie Albies and Ozuna had two hits apiece in the for the Braves. The Braves are now 6-0 this postseason.
The Dodgers face the Braves in Game 2 at 6:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday in Arlington. The winner of the NLCS will face the Tampa Bay Rays or Houston Astros in the World Series next week at Globe Life Field. The Rays own a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series.
“Game 1 doesn’t mean anything if they don’t win four games this series,” Enrique Hernandez said of the loss. “We will throw this one away and come back [Tuesday] with a fresh mind and do what we do.”
Clayton Kershaw is expected to start Game 2 for the Dodgers. The Braves are expected to start right-handed pitcher Ian Anderson on Tuesday in Arlington.