Braves brace for stern test from Dodgers

MLB Baseball

The Atlanta Braves can continue to make an impact on the National League West race when they resume the rematch of the 2020 National League Championship Series on Monday with a visit to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves enter the series after winning two of three games over the weekend against the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants.

It was a similar story when the Braves faced the Dodgers at home June 4-6, winning two of three games against the team that eliminated them in last year’s seven-game NLCS. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series after they rallied to eliminate the Braves.

“It doesn’t get any easier and I saw a graphic where we have 22 of 28 (games) against the West,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, when asked about the upcoming series against the Dodgers.

“But if we can compartmentalize it and take it a day at a time, try to win that game, win the series, not look at the big picture … I hate that. We have to win (Monday).”

The Braves are 11-3 since Aug. 13, but all three of those defeats came over the past week — including the New York Yankees’ brief two-game sweep at Atlanta and the Giants’ 5-0 victory Saturday.

The Braves rebounded Sunday for a 9-0 victory over the Giants with home runs from Jorge Soler, Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies to go along with solid pitching from Ian Anderson.

The Braves will send left-hander Drew Smyly (9-3, 4.54 ERA) to the mound Monday. Smyly has yet to record a decision with a 2.19 ERA in four career outings (two starts) against the Dodgers.

The series also will mark the return of Braves outfielder Joc Pederson to Dodger Stadium. Pederson, who helped the Dodgers to last year’s NLCS victory over the Braves, will be making his second trip to the ballpark this season after going 1-for-11 with the Chicago Cubs in June.

The Dodgers will open the series with left-hander Julio Urias (14-3, 3.17), who will make his second start since returning from the injured list because of a calf contusion. Urias pitched five scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.

The Dodgers continue to build an extra day of rest into the schedule for their starters, thus giving Urias a five-day break between outings instead of four. Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer also will pitch in the series on an extra day of rest.

“I still think, coming off last year (in a 60-game regular season), and understanding what guys are taking on this year, whenever you can give an extra day, curtail an inning here or there, it just only seems like upside,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We have done that more often than probably in a normal year. The five days (rest) probably seems more normal.”

In three career outings (one start) against the Braves in the regular season, Urias is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in nine innings.

Urias earned the victory in both of his appearances in the 2020 NLCS, including a scoreless three-inning relief appearance to finish off Game 7.

The Dodgers will enter after falling 5-0 to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, losing two of three games in the weekend series. The Dodgers have averaged 3.29 runs over their past seven games.

–Field Level Media

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