LOS ANGELES — Mookie Betts homered and drove in three runs, Will Smith also went deep and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Tuesday night to force a decisive Game 5 in their NL Division Series.
The 107-win Giants host the 106-win Dodgers on Thursday night, with the winner advancing to face Atlanta in the NL Championship Series. The Braves eliminated Milwaukee earlier Tuesday.
San Francisco won the NL West by one game over the Dodgers in a historic race that went down to the final day of the regular season. Now, these storied rivals are set for a winner-take-all showdown.
"I think it’s only fitting," Los Angeles ace Walker Buehler said.
The wild-card Dodgers managed just five hits during a 1-0 loss in Game 3 — the second time they were shut out in this series — to put the defending World Series champs on the brink of elimination. Los Angeles had that many by the second inning Tuesday and pounded out 12 in all to back a brief but effective outing from Buehler on three days’ rest.
Buehler went to manager Dave Roberts as early as the Dodgers’ 9-2 victory in Game 2 and said he wanted the ball in Game 4 to start on short rest for the first time in his career. The right-hander allowed one run and three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two on 71 pitches.
"I actually felt great," Buehler said. "Probably the best I have in the second half of the year. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but for tonight I felt pretty good."
After giving up a leadoff single to Evan Longoria and walking pinch-hitter Steven Duggar, Buehler exited to a standing ovation from 52,935 blue towel-waving fans.
The Dodgers chased starter Anthony DeSclafani in the second. He gave up two runs and five hits and struck out two.
The Giants ran through six pitchers by the fifth, leaving them with just three relievers. By the seventh, only backup catcher Curt Casali was available off the bench and he pinch-hit in the eighth.
The biting, steady wind that prevailed throughout Game 3 was gone, leaving just a slight breeze to ruffle the center-field flags.
Smith hit a two-run homer to center in the eighth, extending the lead to 7-2.
Betts homered in the fourth, and his bases-loaded sacrifice fly scored Cody Bellinger in the fifth for a 5-1 lead.
The Giants’ runs came in the top of the fifth on Darin Ruf’s RBI groundout off Joe Kelly, and Kris Bryant’s RBI groundout in the eighth. All-Star catcher Buster Posey, a career .257 hitter in the postseason, went 0 for 4.
Buehler was safe at first leading off the fourth when his shot went off reliever Jarlin Garcia’s leg for an error. Betts followed with a two-run homer to the right-field pavilion, extending the lead to 4-0.
The Dodgers got on the board in the first with NL batting champion Trea Turner’s RBI double to right-center that rolled to the wall, scoring Corey Seager, who singled.
Chris Taylor’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0 in the second.
San Francisco had runners at the corners in the second on consecutive one-out singles by Bryant and LaMonte Wade Jr. But Buehler got out of the jam, retiring Longoria on a swinging strike and Mike Yastrzemski on a liner to second.
Last postseason, the Dodgers went 3-0 in elimination games, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to beat Atlanta in the NLCS.
Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol pitched the sixth, when six of his seven pitches clocked 101 mph or better. He retired three of four batters, with only Bryant reaching on an infield single to first. Graterol retired Posey, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores and Longoria on groundouts.
The game was delayed briefly to start the eighth when a fan ended up on the warning track in the right-field corner. Multiple security guards pounced on the intruder, who was handcuffed and escorted off.
Giants: RHP Logan Webb starts Game 5 on Thursday. He dominated the Dodgers in the series opener, striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings to beat Buehler 4-0.
Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias starts the winner-take-all game. The majors’ lone 20-game winner this season led MLB with an .870 winning percentage and then pitched Los Angeles to a 9-2 victory in Game 2.