LOS ANGELES — By the time Manny Machado reached home, the winning run in a 2-1, 13-inning Dodgers triumph against the Brewers, his Los Angeles teammates were already pouring out of the dugout and toward the third-base line, perhaps not so much assuming the conclusion as they were trying to will into reality.
On Cody Bellinger’s walk-off single, Christian Yelich’s throw from rightfield was a moment late, allowing Machado’s left hand to swipe the plate. Chaos ensued. Bellinger, trying but failing to avoid the mob of violently happy Dodgers, ran to left, where they caught him, ripping at his jersey.
The Dodgers evened the best-of-seven NLCS at 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Wednesday. Their ace, Clayton Kershaw, gets the ball opposite Milwaukee’s Wade Miley, who will pitch on short rest.
“We like our chances,” Bellinger said.
The first person Bellinger noticed in the postgame scrum was manager Dave Roberts, who was as excited (and fast) as any player.
“I think we gave each other a big hug,” said Bellinger, who also laid out for a diving catch of Lorenzo Cain’s would-be single in the 10th. “And I think it was the first time I ever got mobbed out in the outfield. I saw [Matt] Kemp do it earlier and I kind of wanted to do that when I hit my walk-off.”
Bellinger brought an end to a game that was light on offensive highlights but filled with plenty of others.
Entering the last inning, the Dodgers had used 22 of their 25 players. The last three were starting pitchers; Hyun-Jin Ryu, scheduled to start Game 6 on Friday, was close to going to the bullpen to warm up for a relief appearance, Roberts said. The Brewers used 20 players, the only remaining options pitchers (including two starters). Heading into Game 5 — which will start about 14 hours after Game 4 ended — Milwaukee likely will be without Josh Hader (who pitched back-to-back days, a rarity for him) and Corey Knebel (who has pitched in all four games this series).
Because they lost starter Gio Gonzalez (three outs) to a high ankle sprain, the Brewers wound up needing 12 innings out of their bullpen. Manager Craig Counsell said Gonzalez likely will go on the disabled list, which would make him ineligible for the rest of the postseason but, in the short term, would give the Brewers a fresh arm when they badly need one.
“We'll have to kind of put our heads together and look at what we've got,” Counsell said. “We've got some guys we've used quite a bit. We were able to stay away from a couple of guys tonight. But we're in a little bit of a tough spot, for sure. And I think that's just the nature of a 13-inning game.”
In the 10th, both benches and bullpens briefly cleared after a heated exchange between Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar and Machado, who on a routine groundout to shortstop dragged his left (trailing) foot, kicking Aguilar as he passed the base. Three innings later, when Machado singled, they appeared to briefly hug.
“It’s a dirty play by a dirty player,” Yelich said.
Countered Machado: “If that’s dirty, that’s dirty. I don’t care. Call it what you want.”
Freddy Peralta began the reliever parade with three scoreless innings. Hader and Knebel each went one.
Gonzalez likely wasn’t long for Game 4, anyway. He threw 25 pitches in the first inning — walking Chris Taylor, hitting David Freese with a pitch and allowing Brian Dozier an RBI single — and in his Game 1 start went through the Los Angeles lineup only once.
The Dodgers’ Rich Hill fared far better, allowing one run and three hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three. The Brewers could barely touch Hill until the fifth, when Orlando Arcia snuck a one-out single up the middle, off the glove of diving second baseman Dozier. Domingo Santana, pinch hitting for Peralta, followed with an RBI double to right-center, scoring Arcia. After the inning and done for the day, Hill expressed his frustration by smashing a bucket of candy in the Dodgers’ dugout.
The game was not a clinic in hitting, situational or otherwise. The Brewers went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on; the Dodgers, 2-for-10 and 11. They combined for 32 strikeouts and 15 hits in 90 at-bats across 5 hours and 15 minutes. Bellinger mercifully ended everybody’s night before a fast-approaching morning.
“Got to show up in a few hours and compete tomorrow,” Bellinger said. “It's going to be another fun game.”