Braves blank Brewers for 2-1 NLDS lead
ATLANTA (AP) — Joc Pederson credits his postseason success to “not making any moment bigger than it needs to be.”
With another jolt, Pederson put the Atlanta Braves on the verge of advancing in the playoffs.
Pederson kept enhancing his “Joctober” nickname with a three-run, pinch-hit homer and the Braves shut down Milwaukee once again, beating the Brewers 3-0 on Monday to take a 2-1 edge in the NL Division Series.
“It was pretty special,” Pederson said of the fifth-inning drive. “To come up big in a moment like that was pretty cool.”
In a matchup dominated by pitching, Ian Anderson and the Braves bullpen combined on a five-hitter and won by a 3-0 score for the second straight game.
Boosted by shortstop Dansby Swanson’s athletic defense, Atlanta can try to reach its second straight NL Championship Series when it hosts Game 4 today.
Pederson’s homer was his second of the series, both as a pinch-hitter against Adrian Houser. Pederson singled as a pinch-hitter in his only other at-bat in this series, and has driven in four of Atlanta’s seven runs.
Pederson has hit 11 postseason home runs overall and helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series last year with his longballs. He then signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs in the winter and was traded to Atlanta in July.
“He’s been in the big moment, the big stage, and he’s performed and guys appreciate that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Since winning the opening game of the series, the NL Central champion Brewers have not scored in 19 consecutive innings. They were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in this loss.
Asked about the poorly timed offensive slump, manager Craig Counsell said, “We’re in it. I thought we swung the bats better today. … We’ve got to catch a break, frankly.”
Anderson was dominant for the NL East champion Braves, allowing three hits over five innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Will Smith, the fourth Braves reliever, pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the series.
Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta pitched four scoreless innings and was pulled for a pinch-hitter when the Brewers threatened in the fifth.
Houser gave up singles to Travis d’Arnaud and Swanson to open the fifth. Pederson, hitting for Anderson, pulled a high, inside fastball deep into the right-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
“It didn’t look like a bad pitch to me, but give him credit,” Counsell said.
Adam Duvall made a crucial baserunning mistake when he tried to advance from first to second as Austin Riley tried to score from third on d’Arnaud’s flyball in the second. Left fielder Christian Yelich nailed Duvall for the third out before Riley crossed the plate, costing Atlanta a run.
The Brewers hit only .183 in the first two games of the series, including a 3-0 loss in Game 2. Counsell made one lineup change, inserting Luis Urias at third base for Eduardo Escobar.
The Brewers couldn’t score in the fifth after putting runners on second and third with no outs. Urias, hit by a pitch, moved to third on a double by Omar Narvaez.
Anderson escaped when Lorenzo Cain’s sharp grounder was stopped by a diving Swanson, who held the baserunners before throwing to first. Urias was caught in a rundown on pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach’s grounder to third base, and Kolten Wong lined out to Freddie Freeman at first base to end the inning.
Milwaukee and Atlanta have not announced starting pitchers for Game 4 at 5:15 p.m. Eastern time today, though it is likely to be lefty Eric Lauer (7-5, 3.19 ERA) for the Brewers vs. righty Huascar Ynoa (4-6, 4.05 ERA) for the Braves.