The Houston Astros brushed off any suggestions that they are using 2017's sign-stealing scandal as motivation ahead of their World Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Houston will host the Braves in Game 1 on Tuesday, with the Astros featuring in the third World Series in five seasons.

Houston's 2017 World Series title remains shrouded in controversy the Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams on the way to winning the championship, as well as for part of 2018.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by the team after they were initially suspended.

The Astros have since regularly been greeted with jeers and boos in road games but manager Dusty Baker, who was appointed in 2020, insisted they were not out to prove people wrong.

"I don't think that's their main source of motivation," Baker told reporters on Monday. "I think people are trying to make it as their main source of motivation. That doesn't motivate you nearly as much as thriving to win and thriving for excellence.

"I think this team is way past that because they know they can play. You can only be driven by 'I'll show you,' or you can only be driven by negative motivation so far."

Houston infielders Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are both holdovers from the 2017 roster but reiterated Baker's stance.

"I don't think the outside noise motivates us at all," said Correa, who has hit .297 with five RBIs and 11 hits this postseason.

"The guys inside [the clubhouse] - we motivate ourselves to just be better every single day, and you see the results on the field.

"I don't think we're playing here in the World Series because we're motivated to prove to people that we're a really good team."

Altuve, who hit .278 with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs across the regular season, said he had not considered the sign-stealing scandal in the lead-up to the World Series.

"I haven't thought about that, but I think we have the same mindset we always have, just going out there and try to win," Altuve said.

"This is a pretty special team. Everybody just talks about winning. We all want to win. There's not a single guy who talks about something else."

Correa and Altuve were both crucial in offense for the Astros in 2017, recording 14 RBIs in the postseason, with both hitting two home runs in the World Series.

The St Louis Cardinals named Oliver Marmol as their new manager to replace the departed Mike Shildt, making the 35-year-old the youngest skipper in MLB.

St Louis dismissed Shildt earlier this month, despite the Cardinals' franchise-record 17-game streak which saw them storm into the MLB postseason.

Marmol served as St Louis' bench coach under Shildt last season, has been part of the team's staff since 2017 and is a former Cardinals draftee and minor leaguer.

"Oli is a career member of the Cardinals organisation, and someone who has built excellent working relationships with our players, coaches and staff members at all levels," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement on Monday.

"We believe that he possesses strong managerial skills that will allow for the continued success of our team."

The Cardinals parted ways with Shildt due to "philosophical differences", despite a win percentage of 55.9 across three seasons and a 92-win 2021 campaign.

Marmol, who is younger than active Cardinals Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, becomes the youngest manager since Eric Wedge, when he took charge of the Cleveland Indians in 2003.

The Houston Astros will be without ace Lance McCullers Jr. throughout the World Series due to a forearm strain.

McCullers – a World Series champion in 2017 – declared himself unavailable for the best-of-seven MLB showpiece on Monday, with the Astros-Atlanta Braves opener scheduled for Tuesday.

The starting pitcher left Game 4 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Chicago White Sox due to forearm tightness and sat out the entire American League Championship Series (ALCS) clash with the Boston Red Sox.

"We're hoping that in a couple weeks, when I would pick up my normal offseason workout routine and things of that nature, that I won't have many restrictions," McCullers said as he expects to be ready for Spring Training in 2022.

"And then we can just flow into pitching in January. [Dr. Neal] ElAttrache has seen the MRI, things of that nature. He told us that he doesn't believe anything is wrong with the UCL, anything like that. Just a pretty solid forearm strain that I had there in Chicago.

"We knew that it was less than a one percent chance that I would have a role in this series, but there was no point to write me off until we had to."

An All-Star during Houston's World Series run in 2017, McCullers enjoyed the best season of his career as the 28-year-old finished with a 3.16 ERA – eclipsing his 3.22 mark in 2015.

McCullers achieved a career-high 185 strikeouts with a 13-5 win-loss record in 2021.

In his first start against the White Sox in the playoffs, McCullers kept the Chicago franchise scoreless through 6.2 innings with four strikeouts.

McCullers pitched 4.0 innings of one-run ball against the White Sox in Game 4, while striking out five batters.  

"The worst thing is I just feel like I can't be there for the team in the way they need me the most, which is on the field," McCullers said.

"…When you have a team like that, and you've been to the postseason so many times, and the World Series is your goal, Spring Training and the season is almost just something you have to do because this is where you want to be, this is where you hope to be.

"For me to not be able to pitch when I feel like these are the moments that I dream of, the moments I’m kind of built for, is probably the worst part."

As the National League Championship Series unfolded, it became clear to the Los Angeles Dodgers that they had to find a way to stop Eddie Rosario. 

Maybe that would have happened if the series had gone seven games, but Rosario made sure it did not, hitting his third home run of the NLCS to give the Atlanta Braves a 4-2 win Saturday and secure MVP honours. 

As the Braves advance to their first World Series since 1999, they can thank a man who did not make his first start for Atlanta until August 29 but has become indispensable. 

Rosario went 14 for 25 in the series for a staggering .560 batting average, driving in nine runs and scoring six himself. 

"We just couldn't figure him out," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "He beat us the other way. He beat us to the pull side. He got hits off lefties, off righties. We tried to spin him. We went hard.

"We just didn't have an answer for him and when you've got that big guy [Freddie Freeman] looming behind him it's just kind of tough to pitch around him, who was clearly hot. But, yeah, we just didn't have an answer for him."

Rosario tied an MLB record for the most hits in a postseason series, but he could lay claim to owning it outright.

The four men he shares the mark with – Marco Scutaro (2012 NLCS), Kevin Youkilis (2007 ALCS), Albert Pujols (2004 NLCS) and Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS) – all needed seven games to reach 14 hits. 

"It's just amazing how locked-in he is," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Rosario. "It's been something else."

Atlanta acquired Rosario from the Cleveland Indians on July 30, just under three weeks after losing star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. for the season with a knee injury, but they knew they would have to wait for the newcomer to join the lineup. 

Rosario had been out since July 5 with an abdominal strain and would not become a regular fixture in the Braves lineup until mid-September, but no one is taking him out now. 

Though the 30-year-old has postseason experience from his time with the Minnesota Twins, he has never experienced anything like the last week or so. 

"This is obviously my greatest accomplishment of my career so far, this [MVP] trophy and this award, so it's something to definitely be proud of," Rosario said. 

"It's truly a great moment, not just in my career, but in my life as well, but I want more. I want to win the World Series."

The Atlanta Braves are headed to the World Series for the first time since 1999 after their hottest hitter led them past the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. 

Eddie Rosario's two-out, three-run homer off Walker Buehler in the fourth inning proved the difference for Atlanta, who ended the Dodgers' hopes of second successive title after Los Angeles won 106 games to Atlanta's 88 during the regular season. 

It was sweet revenge for the Braves after they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Dodgers in last year's NLCS. Los Angeles had won seven straight postseason elimination games before Saturday, four of them against the Braves. 

Austin Riley drove in the other Atlanta run with a first-inning double that scored Ozzie Albies and the Braves left the rest to their pitching staff. 

Starter Ian Anderson worked four strong innings but Atlanta manager Brian Snitker pinch-hit for him as part of the sequence that led to Rosario's game-changing homer. 

Relievers AJ Minter and Tyler Matzek did their part with two perfect innings each, striking out eight total batters around another rough outing from Luke Jackson, who allowed an A.J. Pollock RBI single in the seventh. 

Will Smith came on to close it out in the ninth before a roaring sellout crowd of 43,060 at Truist Park, where the Braves have won 10 of their last 11 games, and got Pollock to ground out to shortstop Dansby Swanson for the final out. 

Atlanta will face the American League champion Houston Astros for the title, with Game 1 set for Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. 

The Braves were swept by the New York Yankees in their last World Series appearance 22 years ago, a disappointment that came four years after the franchise won its only title in 1995. 

Dusty Baker said "there was never a doubt" in the Houston Astros' minds that they would top the Boston Red Sox and reach the World Series.

The Astros will feature in the MLB showpiece for the third time in five years after Friday's 5-0 shutout secured a 4-2 victory in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Kyle Tucker's three-run homer settled the contest in the eighth inning as the 2017 World Series champions prepare to face either the Atlanta Braves or Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Pitching, defense and timely hitting," veteran manager Baker said of how the Astros came back to claim the series against the Red Sox.

"And plus, these guys always believed that we were going to win. I mean, there was never a doubt in their minds."

Baker is heading back to the World Series for the first time in 19 years – the only manager to go longer between consecutive World Series appearances was Bucky Harris (1925 with the Senators then 1947 with the Yankees).

Baker will be aged 72 years and 133 days old for Game 1 of the World Series, the second oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic behind only Jack McKeon (73 years and 329 days in 2003).

Yordan Alvarez was crowned ALCS MVP after becoming the fifth Astros player with a four-hit game in a potential postseason clincher after driving in the opening run before scoring to double the lead in the sixth inning of the Game 6 clash.

"It means everything," Alvarez told reporters. "I think there are a lot of things that I could say that's behind the trophy, but all I can say is it just means everything."

Luis Garcia starred on the mound for the Astros, allowing just one hit and striking out seven batters across 5.2 innings.

"I felt great," said Garcia, who exited his Game 2 start with a right knee strain. "The adjustment that I made with my leg, I think was the big thing. That helped me a lot, even to throw harder."

Yordan Alvarez was the hero as the Houston Astros topped the Boston Red Sox 5-0 to advance to the MLB World Series.

Alvarez drove in the opening run before scoring to double the lead in the sixth inning to fuel the Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Friday.

The Astros sealed the ALCS pennant 4-2 and their first World Series berth since 2019 – third in five years – thanks to Kyler Tucker's three-run homer in the eighth inning.

Houston will face either the Atlanta Braves or defending champions the Los Angeles Dodgers for their second MLB crown and first since 2017.

ALCS MVP Alvarez – the fifth Astros player with a four-hit game in a potential postseason clincher – set the tone in Houston, where he doubled to deep centre, allowing Alex Bregman to score in the first inning.

The tense battle continued before Tucker's grounded into double play at first as Alvarez scored to make it 2-0.

With the Red Sox trying to avoid elimination, the Astros put the result beyond doubt behind Tucker's 357-foot shot in the bottom of the eighth, with Alvarez and Carlos Correa also scoring.

Alvarez (.522) ended the series with the highest batting average in the ALCS, eclipsing Kevin Youkilis (.500 in 2007).

Luis Garcia starred on the mound, allowing just one hit in 5.2 innings while striking out seven batters.

Houston's Dusty Baker is heading back to the World Series for the first time in 19 years – the only manager to go longer between consecutive World Series appearances was Bucky Harris (1925 with the Senators then 1947 with the Yankees).

Baker will be aged 72 years and 133 days old for Game 1 of the World Series, the second oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic behind only Jack McKeon (73 years and 329 days in 2003).

 

Dodgers at Braves

The Braves can secure a date with the Astros when they host the Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) on Saturday. Atlanta lead 3-2.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts labelled Chris Taylor "remarkable" and in an "elite class" after his three home-run display in their National League Championship Series (NLCS) Game 5 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Taylor joined Enrique Hernandez as the only Dodgers player ever to have a three-homer postseason game as they won 11-2 over the Braves to avoid elimination.

The victory sees the World Series champions pull the NLCS back to 3-2 but Taylor's hitting was all the talk as he became only the fifth player with a three-or-more homer and four-or-more hit postseason game.

"He's in an elite class of very few. When you're talking about Gil Hodges and Duke Snider who didn’t do it, it's pretty remarkable," Roberts said during a news conference after the win.

"He's one of the best I've seen at just being in the moment. When his career is over, he can look back and appreciate that.

"For me being a Chris Taylor fan and seeing he's a part of history now, it's pretty remarkable. He just does things the right way."

Taylor received a curtain call from the fans at Dodgers Stadium, as they turned around an early 2-0 deficit, piling on 11 unanswered runs.

A.J. Pollock also hit two home runs but was overshadowed by Taylor who finished the game with four hits from five at-bats and six RBIs.

"That was my first one [curtain call]," Taylor said. "Anytime you do something cool, when you do it at Dodgers Stadium it makes it that much sweeter.

"This is a special place. These fans are awesome. For that to happen for the first time on this stage in front of this crowd was a special moment.

"Mechanically I'm in a good place. Once you get a couple of hits and the confidence is there, that's when everything comes together."

The Dodgers become the third team in postseason history to have two players with a multi-home run game in the same postseason encounter. They also set a new franchise record for hits in a postseason game with 17, tying their postseason home-run record of five.

In bad news for the Dodgers, Roberts revealed starting pitcher Joe Kelly would likely not return this season after sustaining a biceps injury in the first inning.

"It's a bicep strain and we're going to continue to evaluate but the way it reads right now, that'll be it for the rest of the season for him," Roberts said.

Chris Taylor made history by homering three times to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers alive in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) with an 11-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Facing elimination at 3-1 down in the NLCS, the World Series champions trailed 2-0 early before 11 unanswered runs headlined by Taylor's trio of home runs, going four-from-five for the game with six RBIs.

Taylor joined Enrique Hernandez as the only Dodgers player to ever have a three-homer postseason game. The 31-year-old moves to an equal-postseason high 12 RBIs, along with four home runs and 12 hits. All four of Taylor's home runs have come in games when the Dodgers were facing elimination.

A.J. Pollock also finished the game with two home runs, including an eighth-inning three-run blast, going three-from-five.

The Dodgers become the third team in postseason history to have two players with a multi-home run game in the same postseason game. They also set a new franchise record for hits in a postseason game with 17, tying their postseason home-run record of five.

The Braves threatened to run away with the series after Freddie Freeman's first-inning two-run blast with Dodgers starting pitcher Joe Kelly withdrawn soon after.

But LA responded with home runs from Pollock and Taylor in the third inning from Max Fried to claim the lead.

Taylor extended the Dodgers lead with a two-run home run in the sixth inning, adding a third homer in the seventh inning to open up a 7-2 lead.

Pollock put the icing on the cake in the eighth inning, before Kenley Jansen closed it out.

The Dodgers had trailed the Braves 3-1 in last season's NLCS, before triumphing in the next three games and ultimately winning the World Series.

 

Red Sox at Astros

The Houston Astros can secure their spot in the World Series for the third time in five years when they host the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series leading 3-2.

Former World Series champion Jorge Soler has been cleared to return for the Atlanta Braves ahead of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.

The Braves opened up a 3-1 NLCS lead with Wednesday's 9-2 victory, leaving the World Series champions needing to win three elimination games to progress.

Soler has been absent for the Braves after testing positive to COVID-19 during their National League Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 2019 American League run leader hit .269 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs across 55 games for Atlanta after his trade deadline deal from the Kansas City Royals.

"He's been working out on his own," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I think he's good to go. That's a great weapon off the bench right there."

The Dodgers have lost third baseman Justin Turner to a hamstring injury, with Andy Burns added to their roster to replace him.

Turner hit .278 with 27 home runs, 87 RBIs and 148 hits across the regular season.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora says his side are not suddenly a bad offensive team and brushed off talk of a slump after going down 3-2 in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) to the Houston Astros.

The Astros triumphed 9-1 on Wednesday to move within one game of the World Series, backing up from Tuesday's 9-2 win.

The Red Sox only managed three hits for the game on Wednesday, with Astros pitcher Framber Valdez starring across eight innings.

The defeats mean the Red Sox have allowed nine or more runs and been held to five or fewer hits in back-to-back games for the first time ever at Fenway Park.

"I don’t see it as a slump, it's two games," Cora said during his post-game news conference.

"We've been really good defensively the whole month. Tonight that kid [Valdez] was amazing. We'll keep working and talking. We'll be ready as a group."

Game 6 will take place in Houston on Friday, offering the Red Sox a chance to recoup and reconsider their plans after the Astros flipped the ALCS.

"We know we can hit," Cora added. "Two bad games doesn’t mean that all of a sudden we're not a good offensive team.

"It's a matter of a re-group, make some adjustments and attack from the first pitch on.

"We've got to win two games to go to the World Series, that's the bottom line."

Cora insisted he would not make any personnel changes to his Red Sox line-up for Game 6, backing in Hunter Renfroe who has had a lean ALCS, with only one hit.

Renfroe has not homered all postseason, after blasting 31 with 135 hits and 96 RBIs during the regular season, hitting at .259.

"He's a guy throughout the season who has done an amazing job," Cora said. "He's played great defense for us and he's been good offensively. We'll keep rolling them out there."

Cora was full of praise for Valdez, who had five strikeouts, describing his sinker as "unreal" and claiming he was the difference.

"Their guy was amazing," he said. "He was throwing harder than usual, the ball was moving, we didn’t hit the ball hard at all.

"Credit to him. His sinker was unreal tonight. You tip your hat to him and you move forward."

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has revealed his misfiring offense has been dealt another blow in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) with Justin Turner ruled out for the postseason.

The Dodgers were beaten 9-2 by the Atlanta Braves, who took a 3-1 lead in the NLCS, meaning the World Series champions will need to three elimination games to progress.

LA only managed four hits for the game, with their only runs coming from A.J. Pollock's fifth inning two-run single. The Dodgers also only managed four hits in the 5-4 loss to the Braves in Game 2.

Turner, who hit at .278 with 27 home runs, 87 RBIs and 148 hits across the regular season, also limped out of Game 4 with a hamstring injury when running to first base in the seventh inning in a further blow.

"Early indications is it's a grade two [hamstring]. I think that'll be it for him," Roberts said during the post-game news conference. "Obviously he's very disappointed.

"We're talking through [his replacement] right now. It'll be a position player but not sure who."

Roberts had no answers when asked to explain his side's inconsistent offensive performance throughout the series, needing Cody Bellinger's miraculous eighth-inning three-run blast to rescue a 6-5 victory in Game 3.

"That's a very fair question," Roberts said when asked about the inconsistency. "I know it's not from a lack of work or preparation, so the last part is execution.

"I just don’t have an answer. Every time I write the lineup out, I feel very good, but it just hasn’t been as consistent as anyone expected… We've got to change that. I wish I had an answer."

Thursday's Game 5 will represent the fourth game this postseason that the Dodgers have faced elimination.

The Dodgers also trailed the Braves 3-1 in last year's NLCS, before storming back to win the next three games and the World Series, offering Roberts hope.

"You never want to have your back against the wall, that's not how you draw it up," he said. "We have a very resilient team, a very tough team.

"It's not going to get much tougher than facing Max Fried in an elimination game but we've done it before. We've got to win tomorrow and I believe we're equipped to win tomorrow's ball game."

Eddie Rosario starred as the Atlanta Braves moved within one win of the World Series thanks to a 9-2 victory over defending champions the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.

Rosario delivered four hits, four RBIs and three runs in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), including a ninth-inning three-run homer to ice the victory, giving the Braves a commanding 3-1 series lead in the MLB playoffs.

Atlanta raced to a 4-0 lead after three innings via solo home runs from Rosario, Adam Duvall and Freddie Freeman, before Joc Pederson drove in Rosario.

A.J. Pollock hit a two-run single in the fifth inning to offer hope of another Dodgers fightback following Tuesday's 6-5 win, but the Braves pulled away again led by Rosario – who became the first-ever player with two four-hit NLCS games. The 30-year-old is hitting at .600 with nine-for-15 in the NLCS.

Rosario needed a double from his ninth inning at-bat to complete a cycle and become the second player in MLB history to achieve the feat, but instead settled for a game-sealing three-run blast. 

According to Stats Perform, Rosario is the first player in major league playoff history to have two four-hit games in a three-game span in a single postseason.

Teams with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series have won 75 of 89 times. To make matters worse for the Dodgers – who are on the brink of elimination and being dethroned, Justin Turner limped out of the game with an apparent hamstring injury.

The Houston Astros shut down the Boston Red Sox behind Framber Valdez as they delivered a five-run sixth-inning rally to cruise to a 9-1 triumph and a 3-2 lead in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Valdez pitched eight innings, allowing only three hits and one earned run with five strikeouts, with the Red Sox only managing three hits for the game at Fenway Park in Boston.

Yordan Alvarez, who had a second-inning homer and finished with three hits, drove in two during the fifth inning, along with Jose Siri with a fly ball to open a 6-0 lead.

The Astros had won 9-2 in Game 4, meaning the Red Sox have allowed nine or more runs and been held to five or fewer hits in back-to-back wins for the first time ever at Fenway Park.

Houston, meanwhile, are the first team in MLB postseason history to be trailing in a series and then win back-to-back games on the road by seven-plus runs, according to Stats Perform.

 

Braves at Dodgers

The Braves can secure their first World Series appearance since 1999 when they face the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday.

Cody Bellinger saved the Los Angeles Dodgers with their season on life support as he crushed a game-tying three-run homer in a 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS).

World Series champions the Dodgers were facing a 3-0 deficit in the NLCS, with the Braves leading 5-2 in the eighth inning before Bellinger's intervention at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

With Will Smith and A.J. Pollock on base, Dodgers star Bellinger crushed a Luke Jackson fastball into the right-field bleachers.

Three batters later, Mookie Betts laced a go-ahead double with Chris Taylor touching down, before Kenley Jansen closed out the come-from-behind win.

Jansen moved to outright second most MLB postseason saves with 19.

Only the 2004 Boston Red Sox have ever erased a 3-0 deficit to win a postseason series, so the Dodgers significantly revived their hopes of reaching another MLB showpiece.

The Dodgers had opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning after Corey Seager's two-run homer, but the Braves produced a four-run fourth inning, before Adam Duvall drove in Ozzie Albies in the fifth inning for his second RBI of the game to build a 5-2 advantage.

The Braves held that lead until Bellinger's intervention in the eighth inning, with the Dodgers staying in the NLCS at 2-1.

Meanwhile, the Houston Astros levelled the American League Championship Series (ALCS) after a seven-run ninth inning guided them to a 9-2 rout of the Red Sox in Game 4 at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox had led 2-1 from the first inning after Xander Bogaerts' two-run inning, before Jose Altuve's game-tying home run in the eighth, which marked his 21st playoff home run, behind only Manny Ramirez (29) and Bernie Williams (22) overall.

With two out, Jason Castro hit a go-ahead double in the ninth inning, setting off a rush of runs – including Michael Brantley's three-run double. The Astros' seven-run ninth inning tied the most ever in the ninth inning of a postseason game.

 

Braves at Dodgers

The Dodgers will look to level the NLCS when they host the Braves on Wednesday, with Julio Urias confirmed to start on the mound for the storied Los Angeles franchise in Game 4. Elsewhere, the Red Sox and Astros will meet in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts cannot remember a more important hit than Cody Bellinger's game-tying three-run homer in the defending World Series champions' come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers trailed 5-2 in the eighth inning in Game of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), facing a 3-0 series deficit before 2019 NL MVP Bellinger's three-run shot tied Tuesday's MLB contest.

Mookie Betts hit a go-ahead double, driving Chris Taylor home, as the Dodgers completed a four-run eighth-inning rally, before Kenley Jansen closed it out in the ninth inning.

The Dodgers had never won a postseason game in their history when trailing by three or more runs in the eighth inning.

Bellinger's homer continued his remarkable postseason, hitting at .292 with seven hits and six RBIs after the two-time All Star endured a challenging regular season for the Dodgers, hitting at .165.

"Pure elation, joy," Roberts said about Bellinger's homer during his post-game news conference.

"It's hard to imagine a bigger hit that I can remember, given what was at stake. I couldn’t be happier for him. What a win. I'm kinda exhausted right now. Very happy for Cody."

Bellinger's regular-season return for the Dodgers had been modest, with 10 home runs, 52 hits and 36 RBIs from 95 games, which Roberts described as "rock bottom".

That was in contrast during his MVP-winning 2019 season he homered 47 times, with 170 hits and 115 RBIs, hitting at .305.

"I think this is going to make him much better. It's tested his character and he's going to be a better baseball player through these struggles," Roberts said.

"When you hit rock bottom, there's a lot of opportunity for openness and change. To his credit, he lowered his arms, understood he needed to hit the ball more square and flat and get the loop out of his swing.

"You see the path of that at-bat tonight. All the credit goes to him."

Bellinger, who hit at .212 with four home runs, 14 hits and 13 RBIs during the Dodgers' World Series-winning 2020 postseason, offered an insight into his mindset, labelling the playoffs as a "clean slate".

"In a way it's a whole different season," Bellinger, who celebrated his fourth career game-tying or go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later of a playoff game – tied for fifth-most in postseason nhistory, told reporters. "Luckily for me I got a clean slate going into the postseason.

"I was feeling good towards the end of the regular season. I just tried to continue that and help this team win."

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