The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate with pitcher Max Scherzer and catcher Will Smith (R) after winning the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thursday night. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 15 (UPI) -- After chasing the San Francisco Giants in the National League West division all season, the Los Angeles Dodgers finished off their Northern California rivals in the playoffs on Thursday night -- in a game that ended on a controversial call.
Mookie Betts went 4 for 4, Cody Bellinger drove in the go-ahead run with a ninth-inning single and the Dodgers used six pitchers to hold off the Giants in their 2-1 victory in Game 5 of their National League Division Series at Oracle Park in San Francisco.
Dodgers ace Max Scherzer entered out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory. The final out, though, caused a stir.
In the bottom of the ninth with two outs and facing a third strike, the Giants' Wilmer Flores took a half-swing that was called a third strike by first base umpire Gabe Morales. The call ended the game, but was immediately questioned. Replays showed that Flores' bat did not cross the plate.
"I thought he went, so I called it a swing," Morales said after the game, according to USA Today.
"Check swings are one of the hardest calls we have. I don't have the benefit of multiple camera angles when I'm watching it live. When it happened live I thought he went, so that's why I called it a swing."
With center fielder Kris Bryant on first base, Flores represented the potential winning run in that scenario.
Los Angeles moves on to face the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. Even though the Dodgers had a far better regular season record than Atlanta, the Braves have home field advantage by virtue of their division title. The Dodgers qualified for the playoffs via a wild card.
"We continue to grind it out," Bellinger told reporters. "Our pitching did an unbelievable job to keep it close and give us a chance to have the opportunity to get that [go-ahead] hit."
"We can be happy right now, but I'm of the mindset where we gotta turn the page and be ready for the next series," Betts added. "We can't celebrate until we hold the World Series trophy."
Starter Corey Knebel, Buster Graterol, Julio Urias Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen and Scherzer combined to allow just six hits and issued 13 strikeouts and no walks, in addition to the one run surrendered. The Dodgers did not allow a hit or run over the final three innings.
Neither team scored for the first five innings. Betts singled in the second at-bat of the sixth, then stole second base and came around to score on a double from shortstop Corey Seager.
That lead didn't last long, as the Giants tied the score to lead off the bottom of the sixth.
Urias earned a 1-2 lead in the count to Giants left fielder Darin Ruf, but missed the strike zone with his next two pitches. Ruf smacked his 3-2 offering to dead center field for a 452-foot solo homer. The home run traveled 110.1 mph off his bat, according to Statcast.
Giants starter Logan Webb retired Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, center fielder Gavin Lux and Bellinger in order to lead off the seventh.
The Giants took Webb out of the game in the bottom of the inning. The Dodgers put two runners on base in the top of the eighth, but the Giants escaped the jam without allowing a run.
Jansen retired second baseman Donovan Solano, Ruf and catcher Buster Posey in order in the bottom of the eighth. Giants closer Camilo Doval hit Turner with a pitch in the second at-bat of the ninth and Lux followed with a single, which brought Bellinger to the plate.
The Dodgers first baseman hit a 1-2 slider through the infield to drive in Turner for the go-ahead score.
Giants center fielder Kris Bryant reached base on a fielding error in the second at-bat in the bottom of the inning, but his teammates couldn't get him home to tie the score.
Scherzer ended the Giants' season by striking out pinch hitter LaMonte Wade and the controversial call with Flores at bat.
"The Dodgers pitched really well in this series and really well in this game," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. "You have to tip your cap to the work they did. They beat us."
Bellinger and Seager each went 1 for 4 with an RBI for the Dodgers.
Webb allowed four hits and one run over seven innings for the Giants. Bryant went 2 for 4 in the loss. Ruf went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
"It was a great series. The energy here was a lot of fun," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Just to see our guys step up and win a ball game was huge."
The Dodgers face the Braves in Game 1 of the NLCS at 8:07 p.m. EDT on Saturday at Truist Park in Atlanta. Scherzer is expected to start for the Dodgers. Max Fried is expected to start for the Braves.