ARLINGTON, Texas — The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t complete their spirited ninth-inning comeback against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, but their hitters were steadfast in the belief that, along the way, they found something. Something meaningful. Something, they believed, that would propel them for what remained of this National League Championship Series.
The following afternoon, with their dominant season on the brink, they watched that something spill into an 11-run first inning that set a record and ignited a 15-3 Game 3 victory that brought the Dodgers back to life.
“That was our whole goal,” Max Muncy said, “to carry over the momentum of last night.”
The 11 runs topped 10-run innings amassed by four other teams — the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals, 2002 Los Angeles Angels, 1968 Detroit Tigers and 1929 Philadelphia Athletics — for the most in any inning in postseason history. The Cardinals were the only team to score that many in the first, doing so in Game 5 of last year’s NL Division Series, which ended the Braves’ season. The Dodgers tied those Cardinals for another postseason record by sending 14 men to bat in the first inning.
Corey Seager got the Dodgers on the board with an opposite-field, run-scoring double. Will Smith followed with an RBI double to center. Joc Pederson and Edwin Rios followed with back-to-back homers off Braves starter Kyle Wright, who faced only nine batters. Muncy, whose towering home run highlighted the four-run ninth inning that came up just short in Tuesday’s 8-7 loss in Game 2, punctuated the scoring with a grand slam.
“That was a big first inning for us,” Seager said, putting it mildly.
It started, as usual, with Mookie Betts, who began the game with an infield single that was initially ruled an out. The Dodgers have had some miscommunication lately with Chad Chop, a video coordinator who handles replay challenges. But he instructed the Dodgers to challenge a close play at first base, a risky decision so early in a game, and it prompted the overturned call that started the rally.
“For some reason, that just lit a match in everyone,” Pederson said. “We were very excited and just ran with that momentum.”
The Dodgers compiled 18 total bases in that 32-minute top of the first, the most in any inning in postseason history. Their three home runs and five extra-base hits each tied records for a postseason inning. Ten of their 11 first-inning runs were scored with two outs.
By the third inning, after solo home runs by Seager and Cody Bellinger made it 13-0, the Dodgers tied a franchise record for runs and set a record for home runs in a postseason game. By the fourth, with Julio Urias cruising through his start, the Dodgers began removing most of their regulars. By the end of the game, Bellinger, Muncy and Pederson — three important run producers who struggled all season — had combined to go 8-for-14 with three home runs.
When the Dodgers lost Game 2 on Tuesday, it marked only the fifth time all year that they suffered back-to-back losses. Following those instances, they are now 5-0 and have outscored opponents 44-15.
“We know who we are over here,” Muncy said. “We’re a really good team. We kinda lost our footing these first two games, but we all know who we are. We weren’t worried about anything. And tonight we went out and showed what we can do.”
BY ALDEN GONZALEZ