ARLINGTON, Texas — The Los Angeles Dodgers were not panicked before taking the field for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. They faced an 0-2 deficit but remained calm. Their offense showed life late in Game 2. The Atlanta Braves’ pitching quality was about to plummet. They were confident their superior depth would emerge. The team with the best record during the regular season was poised to pounce.
“If we just continue to remain steadfast,” manager Dave Roberts said, “we will come out victorious.”
Victorious is one thing. What the Dodgers pulled off at Globe Life Field on Wednesday was in another stratosphere.
Riding the wave of scoring seven runs in the final three innings of Game 2, the Los Angeles Dodgers dropped a record-setting 11 runs in the first inning Wednesday in a 15-3 rout over the Braves.
The Dodgers tallied seven hits, three home runs and three walks in the 32-minute first-inning demolition. Every player in starting lineup scored. They scored 10 runs with two outs. The 11 runs were the most ever scored in a postseason inning. Their 18 total bases set another record. Their five extra-base hits tied for the most ever. They added four runs in the next two frames to become the first team to score 15 runs in the first three innings of a postseason game.
Corey Seager fell a triple shy of the cycle — in the first three innings. Joc Pederson went four for six with a home run. Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy each delivered two hits. By the fourth inning, both teams began pulling their top players to avoid injury.
In the end, the Dodgers snapped the Braves’ seven-game winning streak to open the postseason. The series is now 2-1 in the Braves’ favor. Game 4 is Thursday at 8:08 p.m.
The Dodgers took a patient approach against the Braves’ starters in Games 1 and 2. They purposely worked the count. The goal was to tire the starters and get to Atlanta’s bullpen early.
It worked better in Game 2 against Ian Anderson than in Game 1 against Max Fried.
They flipped the game plan in Game 3 against Kyle Wright, a rookie with a 6.22 career ERA.
Mookie Betts reached on an infield single to the third baseman on the game’s first pitch. He was initially called out before a replay review changed the ruling. Seager smashed the next pitch to left-center field for an RBI double to give the Dodgers their first lead of the series. Justin Turner and Muncy grounded out and the Braves were one out from a ho-hum one-run inning.
They almost secured it when Will Smith cracked a line drive to center field, where Cristian Pache made a diving stop to prevent the ball from bouncing to the wall. Seager scored as Pache got up off his chest to fire a strike to second base. Smith beat it by a step to extend the inning.
After Smith’s double, Pederson slugged a three-run home run. Edwin Ríos crushed the next pitch over the center-field wall. Chris Taylor walked to chase Wright.
Left-hander Grant Dayton was summoned to stop the thumping in his first playoff appearance. He began by giving up a single to Seager. Turner was hit by a pitch and took his base. The bases were loaded for Muncy. He unloaded them with a grand slam to cap the unprecedented blitz.
Wright was charged with seven runs. He became the first starter in postseason history to allow at least seven runs in less than an inning. He threw 28 pitches.
Dayton, a former Dodger, was kept in the game to absorb some of the 8 1/3 innings Wright left for the bullpen. He threw 62 pitches and gave up eight runs and eight hits in two innings, tying the record for most runs allowed in a postseason game.
Huascar Ynoa replaced Dayton and became Atlanta’s most valuable player of the night. The 22-year-old right-hander saved the Braves’ bullpen with four scoreless innings. Because of the effort, the Braves needed to use only four relievers. It was a small win in the debacle.
For the Dodgers, Julio Urías took the mound with the biggest lead ever given to a postseason starter before throwing a pitch. He walked the first two batters before finding a rhythm.
The Dodgers could have pulled Urías early and saved him for a possible Game 7, but they let him throw a career-high 101 pitches across five innings. He gave up three hits, walked two, struck out five and got the win.Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ closer to begin the playoffs, entered in the sixth with a 14-run lead for his first appearance in a week. He nearly surrendered a leadoff home run to Marcell Ozuna — the ball traveled to the warning track in center field — but retired the side in order.
It was the low-pressure spot the Dodgers sought for Jansen to regain his confidence. It was a situation their historic first inning afforded them. They didn’t panic and rolled.