Juan Uribe slugged the decisive blast in the eighth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) with a 4-3 Game 4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday.
Trailing 3-2 at a packed Dodger Stadium, Uribe launched a two-run shot to clinch the best-of-five series 3-1.
“I didn’t try to look for that pitch. I wanted to have a good swing and try to win the game,” Uribe told reporters. “I had a big swing.”
Hot-hitting Los Angeles are enjoying a first playoff run since 2009 and are to face either St Louis or Pittsburgh, currently tied at 2-2 in their series, in the NLCS.
The Braves appeared on the verge of forcing a decisive Game 5 at home after bouncing back from Sunday’s 13-6 defeat and cooling the Los Angeles offense for much of the contest.
Atlanta starter Freddy Garcia stood up to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw as both pitchers lasted six innings and departed with the contest knotted at 2-2.
Atlanta Braves pinch-hitter Jose Constanza delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning, but Atlanta’s losing pitcher David Carpenter could not hold the lead.
Yasiel Puig set up the comeback in the eighth with a lead-off double and Uribe followed with his second homer in as many nights.
Kenley Jansen got the final three outs to clinch the triumph for the Dodgers and set off wild celebrations on the field.
It was a promising start for Los Angeles when Carl Crawford smacked solo home runs in the first and third innings, his third homer in two games, for a 2-0 edge.
“I’m just trying to stay square, stay short and not do too much,” Crawford said. “I ran into a few balls that got out, so I’m happy about that.”
However, Atlanta managed to tie the score in the fourth inning. Chris Johnson went three-for-four with an RBI in the losing effort.
The disappointment is nothing new for the Braves, who have not won a post-season series since 2001.
On the mound, Kershaw was pitching on short rest and he struck out six batters while surrendering two unearned runs.