LOS ANGELES — Is this a playoff preview — or review?
Revisiting themes of postseason disappointments past, the Dodgers slipped in the clutch, putting their bullpen on a tightrope until Alex Vesia made the costly mistake — a first-pitch fastball that caught too much of the plate with two outs in the 10th inning. Orlando Arcia clubbed it into the left-field pavilion for a three-run home run, landing the decisive blow as the Atlanta Braves beat the Dodgers for the third consecutive night, 4-2, Saturday.
The three-game losing streak is the Dodgers’ first since the San Francisco Giants swept them in a three-game series June 16-18.
Arcia’s blow was the last — but not the loudest landed by the Braves Saturday night.
Ronald Acuna Jr. destroyed a 3-and-0 fastball from Dodgers rookie right-hander Emmet Sheehan in the third inning. The ball left his bat at 121.2 mph — the sixth-hardest hit ball and third-hardest hit home run since Statcast began tracking such things in 2015. It re-entered earth’s atmosphere 454 feet later on the other side of the center field wall.
Acuna has a home run in each of the first three games in this series, making his MVP case by going 6 for 13 with six RBIs and three runs scored. Mookie Betts, meanwhile, has gone 2 for 11 with no hits since his two home runs in the series opener Thursday.
But the Braves went silent after Acuna’s detonation.
Sheehan went just four innings but they were the best four innings by a Dodgers starter so far in this series. Despite being dangerously close to the blast zone for Acuna’s home run, Sheehan allowed just three hits while striking out six in his four innings. Braves hitters swung-and-missed 18 times at Sheehan’s 76 pitches including seven on his changeup and six on his fastball.
The Dodgers stressed Braves starter Bryce Elder a lot more. They loaded the bases with no outs in the third and again with two outs in the fourth – but nearly got nothing out of it.
Will Smith grounded into a double play in the third, allowing one run to score before Max Muncy flew out to end the inning. In the fourth, Mookie Betts went down with the bases loaded on a called strike three that was clearly off the plate.
They put two runners on with two outs in the eighth but James Outman struck out, leaving the Dodgers hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position in the game at that point.
Sheehan and the Dodgers’ bullpen did yeoman’s work to keep the game tied 1-1, combining to retire 19 consecutive batters before Vesia walked Braves catcher Sean Murphy with two outs in the 10th. Arcia followed with his home run — the Braves’ eighth in the series and MLB-leading 258th of the season.
The Dodgers cashed in their free runner in the bottom of the 10th inning but finished the night 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and 3 for 24 in the series.
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