Thursday, June 20, 2024

Dodgers outlast Braves on Andy Pages’ 11th-inning walk-off single

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LOS ANGELES — This time around, there was no playoff seeding at stake, no MVP race to decide and no argument to settle about who is the National League’s best team as October approached.

This time, the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves met as a pair of mega-talented teams still trying to find their way in the early portion of the season and they proved to be at similar places on the journey.

In the first meeting of NL powers, it was the Dodgers who got the jump on the season series with a 4-3 victory Friday night as Andy Pages delivered a walk-off RBI single in the 11th inning. The rookie finished his first four-hit game in style.

“It’s very special to me,” Pages said through an interpreter about getting singles in each of his final four at-bats. “We know how good Atlanta is. I was just happy we got the win.”

The early anticipation for this Dodgers-Braves matchup was a far cry from the last time the teams dueled at Dodger Stadium late last season. Yet it ended up similar in many ways when the atmosphere increased as the hour grew late.

A year ago, Ronald Acuña Jr. got the jump on the Dodgers in the showdown series with an early grand slam and made a statement in an Atlanta series win that lasted through MVP voting when he was named the NL’s top player.

On Friday, it was Acuña’s home run in the eighth inning that tied the score at 2-2 and ultimately forced extra innings. Acuña entered with just one home run, although he was still in a three-way tie for most runs scored in the major leagues with 29. The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts was among the trio.

“Especially (facing) that team, the Braves … we have to play a perfect game for us to be able to get the win,” said Teoscar Hernandez, who hit a home run as the Dodgers won for the eighth time in 10 games. “But it was really important. We’re paying really good baseball right now and trying to stay focused on things we need to do and just try to keep the streak going.”

With a month left in the 2023 regular season, the Braves won three of the four games against the Dodgers in what felt like a NL Championship Series preview, only to have both teams collapse in the NL Division Series.

Acuña had his home run Friday, although fellow star Matt Olson continued his early-season slumber by going 0 for 4.

The Dodgers have their stars too, although Betts and former Brave Freddie Freeman were relatively quiet with one hit among them. On Friday, the team’s rock was Gavin Stone, who gave up one run on five hits over six innings with a walk and five strikeouts. The bullpen gave up one earned run on one hit the rest of the way.

“I think I was just getting ahead and using secondaries to kind of get soft contact and put them away,” Stone said. “A couple of innings there, especially early, I wasn’t getting ahead but (catcher Will Smith) had a really good game plan so he kind of calmed me down.

The Braves scored in the 10th inning on a sacrifice fly from Orlando Arcia, but Shohei Ohtani wiped out that run with an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th to extend the game.

Michael Grove (1-1) earned the win with a scoreless 11th inning. Pages’ game-winning bloop hit to center field came off veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez (1-1).

“Pitch by pitch your confidence grows and grows,” Pages said of the game winner that came on a full count during an eight-pitch at-bat. “You get more experience facing these pitchers and get more chances with these at-bats.”

Hernandez has been impressed with Pages, who was playing in his 15th career game.

“Watching him play, watching him develop these couple of weeks since he’s been up here, he’s a great guy and he’s always asking how to get better,” Hernandez said. “… He’s made for big moments. He’s not afraid to go out there and have success at any moment.”

Smith continued his production with an early RBI single and Hernandez hit a fourth-inning home run, to match Ohtani for top honors on the team with seven. Smith’s 25 RBIs rank second among NL catchers.

At age 40, Braves right-hander Charlie Morton was as effective as ever, giving up two runs on five hits over six innings with two walks and five strikeouts.

The lone run Stone allowed was on a home run by Austin Riley in the first inning. The Braves weren’t heard from again until Acuña went deep against right-hander Daniel Hudson.

Andy Pages #WALKOFF! 😎 pic.twitter.com/IUHe6Oodqp

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 4, 2024

.@kirsten_watson caught up with tonight’s #Dodgers hero, Andy Pages after his walk-off hit against the Braves. pic.twitter.com/i8ip0IV7ay

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 4, 2024

Dave Roberts on Andy Pages: “Every time he gets up there it seems like he takes a good at-bat, and the moment certainly doesn’t get too big for him… he just rose to the occasion, it’s fun to watch.” pic.twitter.com/vfTtv7UUUn

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 4, 2024

OHTANI TIES IT UP! #LetsGoDodgers pic.twitter.com/Xug0mqM7l7

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 4, 2024

GET OUT BALL!! 👋#Dodgers take the lead on Teoscar Hernández’s homer. pic.twitter.com/s3uHEn4m0Y

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 4, 2024

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