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Taylor’s Blunder, Other Missed Chances Put LA In NLCS Hole

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Taylor hurried around second base before having second thoughts. He peaked over his shoulder, then hit the brakes.

The Los Angeles Dodgers had trouble getting all the way around the bases throughout Saturday night’s NL Championship Series opener. None stung quite like Taylor’s blunder.

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Taylor got caught in a rundown in the ninth inning, ending the Dodgers’ last scoring chance before Austin Riley’s game-ending RBI single in bottom of the inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 3-2 win.

The Dodgers were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven, leaving manager Dave Roberts to lament several missed chances.

“We just didn’t get the hits when we needed them,” Roberts said. “We just couldn’t push enough runs across.”

The most crushing of those blown opportunities came in the ninth.

Taylor drew a two-out walk off closer Will Smith, and Roberts called on 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger to pinch hit.

Despite a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup against Smith, Bellinger delivered a line-drive single to right-center, which should have easily moved Taylor into scoring position representing the go-ahead run.

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Taylor took a hard turn around second before peaking back to see right fielder Joc Pederson — a former teammate — scooping up the ball and ready to unleash a throw.

Taylor stopped and turned to go back to second, but that’s where Pederson sent his throw, leaving the well-regarded Dodgers baserunner hung out to dry in a rundown finished by shortstop Dansby Swanson.

“I thought if he would have kept going, he might have had a chance at third, I thought,” Braves third baseman Austin Riley said. “But that was a great play by Dansby. Just being able to get out of that inning there was huge.”

Among LA’s other missed chances:
— Taylor reached on a bloop double in the seventh but was stranded at third when Mookie Betts popped up and Trea Turner struck out.
— Justin Turner singled in the sixth and advanced on a wild pitch and a groundout but was stranded at third, too, when AJ Pollock lined out.
— Reliever Tony Gonsolin singled in the fifth and advanced on Trea Turner’s single but was stranded at second when Corey Seager struck out.
— Seager doubled in the first but never moved up as Braves starter Max Fried struck out Justin Turner to end the threat.

Blake Treinen relieved to begin the ninth and gave up a one-out bloop single to center field by Ozzie Albies, who stole second. Riley, who homered off Gonsolin to tie it at 2-all in the fourth, drilled a tiebreaking single to left, and Albies easily scored to end it.

Los Angeles will counter with ace Max Scherzer for Game 2 against Atlanta’s Ian Anderson.

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