LOS ANGELES – The numerous injuries across the Dodgers' pitching staff sometimes seem to be an insurmountable barrier to playoff success. Los Angeles' inferior arm quality was glaring while the Atlanta Braves took the first three games in this showdown series between the NL's top two teams.
And then Bobby Miller stepped up in the finale and pitched a gem that reminded the Dodgers anything is possible if these teams meet again in October.
The rookie right-hander threw a career-best seven innings of three-hit ball, and Los Angeles avoided a four-game sweep with a 3-1 victory Sunday.
Miller (9-3) underlined his ace potential with this effort against the powerhouse Braves in his 17th career start. Less than four months after he made his major league debut with a solid victory in Atlanta, Miller challenged the majors' top lineup again and thrived.
“After getting our teeth kicked in a little bit after the first three games, we really needed this one today," Miller said. “I was really locked in. I had a great feeling going into this game. Probably the most locked in I've ever been so far. ... That’s a big goal for me, to dominate a team for the second time."
The 24-year-old retired 16 consecutive Braves between Marcell Ozuna’s double in the second and Matt Olson’s homer in the seventh, then finished the inning to a standing ovation. Miller had five strikeouts and just one walk.
“An arm like Bobby Miller's is what it takes (to beat the Braves),” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "Good stuff, and we just couldn't get ahold of him. ... That’s a good-looking young pitcher right there. He’s a strong kid. Love his delivery. He’s got a really bright future.”
Olson hit his 44th homer to pull even with Shohei Ohtani for the major league lead, but Atlanta’s six-game winning streak ended with only its second loss on a 10-game West Coast trip. The Braves still have the majors’ best record at 90-46.
“I look at the body of work, and it was really, really good,” Snitker said. “A lot of great things happened. The guys earned an off day tomorrow.”
Miguel Rojas had an RBI double and Mookie Betts added a run-scoring single in the fifth for the Dodgers, who prevented Atlanta from sweeping a four-game series at Dodger Stadium for the first time. James Outman added an RBI single in the eighth for Los Angeles.
“Getting one before we hit the road again was huge,” Rojas said. “Bobby did a great job with his opportunity. He's going to be a really good starter for us down the stretch.”
Miller outpitched 39-year-old Charlie Morton (14-11), who yielded six hits and three walks in four-plus innings for Atlanta.
Brusdar Graterol allowed two baserunners in the ninth, but hung on for his seventh save. He hasn’t allowed a run in 15 appearances since July 24.
Ronald Acuña Jr. went 0 for 4 and made three inning-ending outs after homering in each of the series’ first three games.
LA's Freddie Freeman also went 0 for 4, ending his 10-game hitting streak when facing his former team.
Neither team got a runner to third until Outman drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and scored on a 391-foot line drive by No. 9 batter Rojas, who has hits in nine of his last 10 games after a tepid offensive summer with his new team.
The Dodgers finally had their first lead since the first inning of Thursday's series opener, and Rojas scored moments later on Betts' bouncing single, which chased Morton after 90 pitches.
Olson was 0 for 17 in the series before he ended his 18-game homer drought since Aug. 13 with a two-out solo shot to right. Miller then walked Ozuna, but induced an inning-ending groundout by Eddie Rosario.
The Braves franchise hasn’t swept a four-game road series against the Dodgers since April 1906, when the Boston Beaneaters took four straight in Brooklyn.
Braves: Dylan Lee returned from 3 1/2 months on the injured list with a shoulder problem when he relieved Morton in the fifth. Lee got Freeman to ground into a double play while throwing a one-hit inning.
Dodgers: Max Muncy left after striking out with an awkward swing to end the fifth. Manager Dave Roberts said Muncy tweaked his left shoulder, and the Dodgers don't yet know the extent of the injury. ... Walker Buehler pitched two perfect innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City in his return to competition after his second Tommy John surgery last summer. Los Angeles hopes the two-time All-Star and World Series champion can contribute in the majors this season.
Braves: Open a homestand Tuesday against St. Louis. No starter had been announced.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 2.48 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday in Miami to open a six-game East Coast trip.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB