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.

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.

Dave Roberts refused to blame either Cody Bellinger or Justin Turner for the bizarre mix-up that cost the Los Angeles Dodgers in their Opening Day defeat to the Colorado Rockies.

World Series champions the Dodgers outhit the Rockies 15-11, had eight runners on base via walk and 20 total bases, but they scored only five runs.

While an 8-5 defeat ultimately was not decided by one play, the first run of the game summed up a day on which manager Roberts said "all the way around, we didn't play well".

Bellinger hit a home run at the top of the third, with Turner already at first base.

But rather than a two-run homer, Bellinger ended up being given out and had to settle for a one-run RBI.

His hit slipped through the glove of left fielder Raimel Tapia before clearing the park and Turner thought the ball had been caught, meaning he hared back to first and passed the advancing Bellinger in the process.

"I don't think there's blame to be placed," Roberts said.

"I think Cody was coming out of the box hard, which he should have, and he's looking at where the ball was at, going hard.

"Justin was just past second base and when he saw the ball in Tapia's glove, he retreated and put his head down to try to get back to potentially be doubled up.

"And then at that point in time, they just kind of crossed between first and second."

The Dodgers finished with a 43-17 record last season and went 7-3 against the Rockies, with their results against the rest of the NL West a slightly more modest 20-10.

They will hope there are few further mishaps in 2021, although Roberts was also reluctant to criticise the umpire.

"From what I understand, he didn't give the out call, so he was just trying to see it," Roberts said. "And once he did see the ball go over, he gave the home run call.

"At that point in time, Justin had already retreated.

"It's just one of those funky plays that I don't think is going to happen again this year."

Three of first baseman Bellinger's 12 homers last season came against the Rockies and he will get the opportunity to atone for Thursday's error on Friday.

Los Angeles Dodgers star Justin Turner will remain with the World Series champions after signing a new deal.

Turner became a free agent after his four-year, $64million contract expired following the Dodgers' MLB World Series triumph in October.

But veteran third baseman Turner announced his decision via social media on Saturday, though the Dodgers are yet to announce the deal.

The 36-year-old's contract is reportedly worth more than $30m over two years in Los Angeles, where Turner has called home since 2014.

Turner – the 2017 National League Championship Series (NLCS) MVP – helped lead the star-studded Dodgers to their first World Series since 1988.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, Turner had 46 hits, 26 runs, four homers and 23 RBIs with a .307 average.

In last season's World Series, Turner tallied eight hits, five runs and two homers with a .320 average.

Since his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, 2017 All-Star Turner has recorded 1,029 hits, 504 runs, 124 homers and 495 RBIs in 3,521 at-bats.

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