Dodgers Join Pirates in Taking 2-1 Lead in MLB Playoffs

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates are each a victory away from reaching the National League Championship Series after Game 3 wins in their respective Major League Baseball playoff series.

Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe both hit home runs as the Dodgers scored 10 runs over the first four innings in a 13-6 win over the Atlanta Braves last night in Los Angeles.

“It was a total team effort,” said Crawford, who went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and three runs batted in. “The guys were swinging the bats well.”

The Pirates beat the St Louis Cardinals 5-3 in yesterday’s first MLB playoff game, scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie in Pittsburgh.

Both best-of-five series had been tied at one game apiece.

The Dodgers now hold a 2-1 lead and can advance to the NLCS for the first time since 2009 with a win at home tonight. The Braves need a victory to send the series back to Atlanta for a decisive fifth game on Oct. 9.

“It’s really important because we don’t want to go back to Atlanta,” Crawford said. “That’s a good team over there, so we don’t want to give them any chance. It would be nice to close it at home.”

The Pirates, in the postseason for the first time in 21 years, can also close out their series today with a home win. Pittsburgh hasn’t been to the NLCS since making three straight trips from 1990 to 1992. The Pirates have won eight of 11 games against the Cardinals this season in Pittsburgh.

Best Record

The Cardinals, who reached the NLCS the past two years, finished three games ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central Division and tied the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the majors during the regular season.

“I’ve been very impressed how our club has bounced back whenever something hasn’t gone exactly how we planned,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Both American League Division Series also continue today, with the Red Sox seeking to complete a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays. Game 3 will be played in St. Petersburg, Florida, after Boston outscored Tampa Bay 19-6 in winning the first two games of the best-of-five series at home.

The Detroit Tigers host the Oakland Athletics in Game 3 of their AL series today after the teams split the first two games in California. Both games were decided by one run.

The winners of the NL and AL championship series will advance to the World Series, which is scheduled for Oct. 23-31.

Pirates Win

The Pirates, who made the postseason as a wild card, moved a step closer to their first playoff series win since 1979 as Pedro Alvarez had a run-scoring single in the eighth inning. It was the fifth run batted in of the series for Alvarez, who had hit home runs in the first two games.

Russell Martin followed with a run-scoring single for Pittsburgh, which had blown leads of 2-0 and 3-2. Carlos Beltran had a two-run single in the fifth inning for St. Louis and added a solo homer in the top of the eighth.

“I never felt like we were going to lose,” said Pirates relief pitcher Mark Melancon, who was credited with the win. “I don’t know if that’s from playing a lot of one-run games or what, but never once did I feel like we would lose.”

The Dodgers gave up two runs in the first inning to the Braves last night and then scored four in the second, including a three-run homer by Crawford. After the Braves scored two more runs in the third inning to tie the score 4-4, the home team added two runs in the bottom of the third and pushed across four more in the fourth, capped by Uribe’s two-run shot.

Pulling Away

Los Angeles scored three more runs in the eighth inning, as Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig each drove in their second runs of the game.

“It’s one of those games where you forget about it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said at a news conference.

Chris Capuano picked up the victory after pitching three scoreless innings in relief of rookie starter Hyun Jin-Ryu, who gave up four runs on six hits in three innings. Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran, also a rookie, was tagged for six earned runs over 2 2/3 innings.

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