Here are five takeaways from Tuesday:
1. Luke Jackson was perhaps the Braves’ most important reliever in the regular season. While shaky in his Game 2 appearance, Jackson hadn’t allowed a run over six postseason outings.
Dodgers hitters Will Smith and AJ Pollock singled off Jackson in the eighth, bringing up slugger Cody Bellinger with one out. Bellinger slammed Jackson’s fourth pitch, a fastball above the zone, into the seats to reset the game.
“Sad thing is I would do the same thing again,” Jackson said. “I was trying to throw a fastball up and away. I actually threw it better than I thought I threw it. Out of my hand, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a ball. It’s too high.’ And no, it wasn’t too high. A good player put a good swing on it. Pretty remarkable.”
Chris Taylor’s single ended Jackson’s night. Veteran righty Jesse Chavez replaced Jackson. Taylor stole second and advanced to third on Matt Beaty’s groundout. Mookie Betts, the former MVP who sits atop the Dodgers’ lineup, roped a two-out double to put his team ahead.
The Braves went 1-2-3 against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. An inconceivable loss became a reality.
“It hurts,” Jackson said. “We lost the game because I made a couple bad pitches that, you know, some days are outs and some days they’re home runs. To feel like this is like a dagger, no, this is just a speed bump in the road. I wish it didn’t happen. I wish we were up 3-0 going into Game 4 and having a chance to sweep, but I have no doubt at all in our team coming back and just stronger tomorrow and ready to recollect and roll.”
2. Braves starter Charlie Morton delivered perhaps his gutsiest performance yet in a Braves uniform. Morton needed 34 pitches to complete the first inning (he threw only 15 strikes). He surrendered a two-run homer to Corey Seager and walked four hitters in the frame.
Morton’s pitch count reached 69 across three innings, but he prevented the Dodgers from pulling away. He logged five innings during a game in which he didn’t have his best stuff – he walked six – still exiting with a 5-2 lead.
“I would have rather thrown more innings than that, but I do think an outing like that, you can definitely learn from that a lot,” Morton, 37, said. “I definitely will learn and grow from that outing. In some ways I think that outing was very, very rewarding and in some ways it was just a very strange place to be. It was like I was pitching in two different games almost at one point … just because the juxtaposition between the first inning and the rest of it was very extreme.”
3. The Braves scored four times in the fourth. First baseman Freddie Freeman’s single started the rally. The key play came on a ball hit by third baseman Austin Riley. Dodgers center fielder Gavin Lux lost the ball in the sun at the right-center wall, botching the catch.
Outfielder Joc Pederson, the ex-Dodger, singled to right to open the scoring for the Braves. Outfielder Adam Duvall evened the score with a single (he’d add another RBI later). Shortstop Dansby Swanson put the Braves ahead when his hard-hit grounder bounced off Seager’s glove and into left field.