Freddie Freeman on Tuesday crushed the winning home run as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 to book their place in MLB’s National League Championship Series.
After a roller-coaster battle at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia, veteran first baseman Freeman slammed a two-out homer into center field in the bottom of the eighth inning off Brewers closer Josh Hader.
Braves reliever Will Smith then had Kolten Wong caught by catcher Travis D’Arnaud after a bunt pop out to start the ninth before striking out Willy Adames with a 132kph slider.
Photo: Brett Davis-USA Today
Smith then dismissed Brewers star Christian Yelich with three strikes to spark wild celebrations and send the Braves back to the championship series for a second straight year.
“I just tried to get a good swing on it,” Freeman said of his winning blast against Hader, one of the best closers in baseball, who had not conceded a home run since July 28.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” Freeman said. “I was feeling good all game, worked on some stuff before the game and it worked out.”
The Braves are to face either the San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers for a place in the MLB World Series.
The Dodgers on Tuesday forced a decisive Game 5 in San Francisco on Thursday after Mookie Betts and Will Smith homered to set up a series-leveling 7-2 victory at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers had been scoreless in a 1-0 defeat in Game 3 on Monday, but came alive in Game 4.
Trea Turner and Chris Taylor got early hits to put the Dodgers 2-0 ahead before Betts drilled a two-run shot off Jarlin Garcia in the bottom of the fourth for a 4-0 lead.
The Giants pulled one back when Darin Ruf ground out to score Evan Longoria in the top of the fifth, but Betts’ sacrifice fly allowed Bellinger to come home in the fifth inning to make it 5-1.
After the Giants closed to 5-2 in the eighth, Dodgers catcher Smith made the game safe with deep fly ball to center field to seal victory.
Dodgers ace Walker Buehler, coming off short rest, bottled up the Giants offense early on, striking out four in 4.1 innings.
“I felt great, probably the best the second half of the year,” Buehler said. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but tonight I felt pretty good.”
Elsewhere, Jose Altuve blasted a three-run home run as the Houston Astros routed the Chicago White Sox 10-1 to reach the American League Championship Series for a fifth straight season.
The Game 4 win sealed a 3-1 series victory and sends the Astros into a best-of-seven series against the Boston Red Sox, with Game 1 set for tomorrow.
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