SAN FRANCISCO — Cody Bellinger hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and prized midseason acquisition Max Scherzer came out of the bullpen for his first career save — with some help from a controversial, game-ending check swing call against Wilmer Flores — sending the Dodgers past the Giants 2-1 in a thrilling winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday night and into the NL Championship Series.
Bellinger’s big hit decided a scintillating NL Division Series between talent-laden teams with lofty win totals — the latest exciting chapter of this storied rivalry.
“The umpire said it was a swing, so it was a swing,” Bellinger said.
And the dramatic finish came with a controversial call: With a runner on, Scherzer struck out Flores on a check-swing to end it. First base umpire Gabe Morales rang up Flores on appeal — but on television replays, it certainly didn’t appear he swung.
“Super tough. Obviously you don’t want to end a game to end that way,” Giants manager Gabe Kabler told TBS after the game. “Obviously it’s going to be frustrating to have a game end like that. A pretty high-quality hitter who can climb back into that count.
“There’s no guarantee of success at the end of the at-bat. It’s just a tough way to end it. especially right now, there’s no need to be angry about that. It’s just a disappointing way to end. There are other reasons we didn’t win today’s baseball game. That was just the last call of the game.”
Mookie Betts had a postseason career-high four hits and will lead the next step in LA’s championship defense at Atlanta for Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.
Camilo Doval plunked Justin Turner with one out in the ninth and Gavin Lux then singled before Bellinger delivered his most meaningful hit in a scrutinized season.
Scherzer, the Game 3 loser who came over from Washington at the trade deadline, closed out a best-of-five series certain to go down among the several classics these franchises have played — right up there with the 1951 and ’62 clubs that each matched up in three-game tiebreakers for the NL pennant that the Giants won each time.
In the 24th and final meeting between these so evenly matched rivals who knew everything about each other by this stage, it was only fitting they split at 12 apiece. The 107-win Giants edged the Dodgers for the NL West title on the final day, Los Angeles winding up a game back with 106 victories.
The Dodgers already won once facing elimination, topping the Cardinals last week in the wild-card game 3-1. And manager Dave Roberts’ bold Game 5 gamble paid off: 20-game winner Julio Urías pitched out of the bullpen instead of starting as originally planned. Urías entered in the third inning and gave LA four innings of relief with five strikeouts.
“I think that you can’t do a job for fear of failure or potential criticism,” Roberts explained. “I think that you have to do your job given whatever you feel is the best way to win the game.”
Betts had the Dodgers’ initial three hits with singles at the top of the lineup before Corey Seager’s RBI double in the sixth as the Dodgers finally got to Game 1 winner Logan Webb.
Then Darin Ruf’s first hit of the series for San Francisco after starting 0 for 9 was a tying home run in the bottom half. The 452-foot drive is the longest of this postseason.
Webb was done after seven more brilliant innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking one as he once more delighted a sellout crowd of 42,275 with their swirling orange rally towels and those deafening “Beat LA!” chants.
The 24-year-old right-hander and two relievers shut out the Dodgers 4-0 here last Friday, and Webb’s Sierra Elementary School to the north in Rocklin held a day in his honor earlier this week.
Betts led off the game with a single but the Giants got out of it with an inning-ending double play and Webb faced the minimum through two.
Right-hander Corey Knebel opened for the Dodgers and gave up Buster Posey’s two-out double in the first, then pumped his fist striking out Brandon Crawford in a seven-pitch at-bat.
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