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Freddie Freeman delivers as the Braves advance to the NLCS

Freeman’s eighth inning home run was the difference

Division Series - Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves - Game Four Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Freddie Freeman homered off of Josh Hader in the eighth inning to give the Atlanta Braves the lead in a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Charlie Morton, starting on three days rest, found himself in trouble quickly as he hit Kolton Wong with a 2-1 breaking ball and then allowed a single to Willy Adames that deflected off the glove of Dansby Swanson. Morton came back and struck out Christian Yelich for the first out and then retired Avisail Garcia on a great barehanded play by Austin Riley for the second out. Morton then struck out Rowdy Tellez to strand the runners.

Dansby Swanson led off the game with a ground-rule double to left center but the Braves couldn’t do anything with him. They threatened again against Eric Lauer in the second as Adam Duvall led off with a single and then moved up to second on a one-out walk by Travis d’Arnaud. Guillermo Heredia then lifted a fly ball to Yelich in left who made a running catch and then threw back to second to double off Duvall who was running on contact. It was the second straight game where Duvall had a blunder on the bases.

Morton retired nine straight but again found himself in a jam in the fourth. Garcia led off the inning with a single. Rowdy Tellez flew out for the first out but Morton then issued a free pass to Luis Urias to put runners at first and second. Omar Narvaez followed with a single to center that scored Garcia to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.

Jesse Chavez took over on the mound for Morton and allowed a run-scoring single to Lorenzo Cain to make it 2-0. After a sacrifice bunt by Lauer moved Cain to second, Chavez walked Wong to load the bases, but struck out Adames to limit the damage.

Morton pitched well overall but wasn’t as sharp on short rest. He allowed four hits, a walk and two runs in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out five while throwing 69 pitches.

The Braves finally broke through in the home half of the fourth but it wasn’t without controversy. Riley led off the inning with a single. Adam Duvall then popped a pitch up in foul territory behind home plate. Narvaez chased it down but the ball bounced off his glove and deflected to Urias who was also pursuing the play. Replay showed that the ball just hit the ground before settling into Urias’ glove.

The umpires huddled up as if they were going to review the play but Duvall was ruled out because only catch/no catch plays are reviewable in the outfield. So when the dust cleared, the Braves had a runner at first with one out. Joc Pederson then fouled out for the second out. Lauer then issued a two-out walk to d’Arnaud and then hit Heredia with a pitch to load the bases.

The Braves initially sent Orlando Arcia to the plate to pinch-hit but Craig Counsell summoned in right-hander Hunter Strickland from his bullpen. Snitker replaced Arcia with Eddie Rosario who delivered a two-run single to center to tie the game.

With two lefties due up for Milwaukee in the fifth, Snitker still elected to go with right-hander Huascar Ynoa. Yelich singled to lead off the inning. Ynoa struck out Garcia for the first out but then gave up a mammoth home run to Tellez to make it 4-2.

Ynoa walked Urias but retired Narvaez on a fly out and then struck out Cain to escape further damage.

Once again, Atlanta answered right back in the home half of the inning. Aaron Ashby took over for Strickland and struck out Freeman to begin the inning. Ozzie Albies then reached on an infield single. Ashby then walked Riley on four pitches to put runners at first and second. He then hit Duvall in the elbow with a 1-2 pitch to load the bases.

Pederson grounded to Urias at third who threw on to second for the second out but the relay at first was not in time. Albies scored on the play to cut the deficit to 4-3. d’Arnaud followed with a single to right that scored Riley to tie the game again at 4-4.

A.J. Minter replaced Ynoa in the sixth and retired the side in order striking out Manny Pina and Kolton Wong to begin the inning and then Adames on a softly hit fly to right.

Ashby remained in the game for Milwaukee and retired Rosario on a grounder and then struck out Swanson looking. Freeman followed with a single to left on an 0-2 fastball. Counsell stuck with Ashby against the right-handed hitting Albies who singled to center. Freeman moved all the way to third on the play to put runners at the corners with two outs.

Counsell would go to his bullpen again but this time bring in Game 2 starter Brandon Woodruff who got Riley to ground to third on his first pitch to leave the runners stranded.

Minter struck out Yelich to begin the seventh and then gave way to Luke Jackson. It was a lights out performance by Minter who struck out three of the four batters he faced. Jackson slammed the door retiring Garcia on a broken bat grounder and then struck out Tellez looking with a 3-2 fastball over the outside corner.

The Braves got the leadoff man on in the seventh when Duvall reached on a pop up that somehow fell in between Woodruff and Tellez. He moved up to second on a ground out by Pederson but Woodruff struck out d’Arnaud and then got pinch-hitter William Contreras to ground out to Adames at short to end the inning.

Tyler Matzek, who has pitched in every game in the series, through up another scoreless appearance in the eighth. Matzek’s allowed just three hits, two walks and struck out seven over 5 1/3 innings in the series.

Counsell went with his closer in the eighth with the top of the Braves’ order due up. He struck out Rosario and then got Swanson to chase strike three in the dirt for the second out. That brought up Freeman who jumped all over a first pitch slider and drove it out for a go-ahead home run to make it 5-4.

Will Smith took over in the ninth and allowed a lead off single to pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar. Wong then made the inexplicable decision to try and bunt and popped it up to d’Arnaud for the second out. Smith then struck out Adames and Yelich to end the game and the series.

Atlanta wins the series 3-1 and advances to the NLCS for the second straight season. They will face either the Dodgers or the Giants in Game 1 Saturday.

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