Atlanta puts on Brave face as Dodgers seek sweep



ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves need to win three straight games against the Los Angeles Dodgers to avoid suffering a ninth consecutive playoff elimination dating to 2001.

First, though, the Braves need to worry about scoring a run as the best-of-five National League Division Series moves to SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Sunday night.

The Dodgers, trying to make the NL Championship Series for the third consecutive year, won 6-0 and 3-0 in Los Angeles while holding the Braves to nine combined hits and issuing no walks.

The New York Giants in the 1921 World Series are the only other team to be shut out in the first two games of a postseason series.

“We’ve just gotta go back home, regroup and win a game,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

It may not get much easier for the Braves in Game 3 as the Dodgers turn to rookie right-hander Walker Buehler as they go for a sweep of the NL East champions.

Buehler, who had a 2.03 ERA after the All-Star break, pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings Monday in the NL West tiebreaker against Colorado that gave the Dodgers their sixth straight division title.

“Obviously this will be my first playoff game, but (Game) 163 has got to be somewhere between a regular game and a playoff game,” said Buehler, who finished with an 8-5 record and 2.62 ERA. “I’m just going with the same game plan, and try and stay under control.”

Buehler beat the Braves in his only regular-season start against them as the 24-year-old allowed a run and two hits over 5 1/3 innings at Los Angeles on June 8.

Worse yet for the Braves, that was when their offense was one of the best in the NL. That began to change in the second half and took a dive in September.

The Braves are batting .145 in the two playoff games and have one extra-base hit, leaving the team with few answers after being completely stymied by Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw.

“I can probably move guys around,” said Snitker, who will bat Ender Inciarte second. “The same guys are going to be out there. We are what we are. We’ve just got to hope. I’m not sure moving guys around, giving them different looks in the lineup, when you’re swinging the bats like we are, is even the answer.”

Right-hander Kevin Gausman was slated to start Game 3, but Snitker changed his mind Saturday and will go with left-hander Sean Newcomb.

Newcomb, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1, had a no-hitter through 8 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in Atlanta on July 29, but had his ups and downs the rest of the season while finishing 12-9 with a 3.90 ERA.

The Braves are 10-25 in postseason games since last winning a series in 2001, when they swept Houston in the NLDS. Atlanta hadn’t made the playoffs since 2013, when it lost 3-1 to the Dodgers in the NLDS.

The Braves were 1-3 against the Dodgers in Atlanta during the regular season, with Newcomb getting the only win, and 2-5 overall versus Los Angeles.



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