Los Angeles: The Milwaukee Brewers staged an early onslaught to set up a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers to level their National League Championship Series here Friday and force a decisive game seven.
Jesus Aguilar, Mike Moustakas and Erik Kratz all drove in first innings runs as the Dodgers’ South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin turned in his worst performance of the 2018 season at just the wrong time.
The Dodgers — fresh from wins in game four and five — had hoped to lock up a return to the World Series at Miller Park on Friday as they aim to end a 30-year drought for the coveted baseball crown.
The visitors got off to a dream start when leadoff hitter David Freese smashed a 402-feet homer to right centrefield to give them a 1-0 first inning lead.
But the Brewers hit back with a devastating burst of scoring in the bottom of the first, which ultimately decided the game.
Dodgers starter Ryu never looked comfortable in the face of an aggressive onslaught from the home side, who got Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun on base either side of outs from Christian Yelich and Travis Shaw.
The arrival of first baseman Aguilar to the plate marked the opening of the floodgates, the Venezuelan lashing a double to right field, which brought home Cain and Braun.
Third baseman Moustakas then piled on the agony for Ryu, opening his at bat with a double to right field to score Aguilar and make it 3-1.
It got worse for Ryu immediately afterwards when veteran catcher Kratz drove to right field to allow Moustakas to cross home plate for a 4-1 lead as Miller Park erupted once again.
By the time Ryu finally claimed his third and final out of the first inning he had conceded four earned runs — more than he had given up in any previous start in 2018.
The Dodgers then left Chris Taylor stranded on third base in the top of the second as Brewers starter Wade Miley shut down the visitors offence once more.
The Brewers then picked up where they left off in the first, aggressively going after Ryu and quickly extending their lead.
Yelich doubled to right field and then Braun drove in another double to make it 5-1 as Ryu looked on aghast.
The Dodgers pulled a run back in the fifth inning when Freese’s double allowed pinch-hitter Brian Dozier to score to make it 5-2.
But the Dodgers hopes of mounting a rally ran into a brick wall in the shape of Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress.
The Brewers then extended their lead when a wild pitch from Dodgers reliever Kenta Maeda flew past catcher Yasmani Grandal to allow Aguilar to score and hand the hosts a 6-2 lead.
Aguilar again punished the Dodgers in the eighth, finding a gap to score Lorenzo Cain and all but guarantee victory before Corbin Burnes rapidly disposed of Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to wrap up the win.
Game seven takes place in Milwaukee on Saturday.