Back of bullpen fails Dodgers as Braves take NLCS opener

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler, right, gets removed from the game by manager Dave Roberts against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning in Game 1, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, for the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Walker Buehler is dealing with two blisters, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are having trouble settling on even one closer.

As for the offense, this wasn’t the blistering start the Dodgers wanted.

Blake Treinen surrendered Austin Riley’s tiebreaking homer leading off the ninth, and the last 13 LA batters of the game were retired in Atlanta’s 5-1 victory in the NL Championship Series opener Monday night.

Treinen and lefty Jake McGee combined to give up four runs in the ninth, while Kenley Jansen never saw the mound as the club’s career leader in saves struggles with velocity and command. Manager Dave Roberts has chosen his words carefully while saying the bullpen roles are open in the ninth.

“I just felt that in a tie ballgame right there, us the home team, I just felt that that run right there was really good for Blake,” Roberts said. “He’s going to have to do it again. It just didn’t work out.”

Ronald Acuña Jr. followed Riley’s homer with a double, and Treinen was gone after giving up Marcell Ozuna’s RBI single. Treinen’s only out was a long flyball to center by Freddie Freeman that moved Ozuna to third. McGee gave up Ozzie Albies’ two-run homer.

Roberts said after the game Buehler has been dealing with two blisters, but the right-hander still pitched into the sixth inning for the first time this postseason despite a career-high five walks. He threw a season-high 100 pitches.

“It’s hard to say you’re too fine,” Buehler said. “I feel like I’ve been decently successful. I don’t want to walk guys. We’re trying to keep runs off the board. I can go deeper. I can be better.”

Buehler allowed one run with seven strikeouts in five innings, leaving after allowing consecutive singles to Travis d’Árnaud and Albies to start the sixth.

“Over the last month there’s been kind of two blister situations and they kind of take turns,” Roberts said. “But I do feel we came out well today.”

Brusdar Graterol replaced Buehler and retired three straight to escape the sixth. Dustin May and Víctor González combined for two scoreless innings, with González striking out Charlie Culberson with the bases loaded to end the eighth.

Baseball’s highest-scoring offense was no match for the hottest playoff pitching staff.

The Dodgers didn’t have a baserunner over the final four innings. The last to reach was Corey Seager via single, three batters after Kiké Hernández’s solo home run leading off the fifth. The other three hits for the Dodgers, who led the majors in homers during the regular season, were singles.

Atlanta, the first team since the 1905 New York Giants to record four shutouts in the first five games in the same postseason, remained unbeaten in the playoffs while handing LA its first loss.

“Their energy was a little bit better than ours tonight,” Hernández said. “They came right out of the gates. We’ll throw this one away and come back tomorrow with a fresh mind.”


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