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The Sports Report: Dodgers lose Game 1 of NLCS, 5-1

Freddie Freeman embraces Braves teammate Austin Riley who homered in the ninth inning in Game 1.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The Dodgers had deftly handled the late innings entering the ninth in their 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Monday night.

Brusdar Graterol needed six pitches to emerge unscathed from a jam Walker Buehler created in the sixth. Victor González, another rookie, was thrust into a bases-loaded predicament in the eighth and got a strikeout to preserve a tie. Dave Roberts was pushing the right buttons. The next button was no longer automatic.

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Every October for the past seven, since the Dodgers started winning the NL West every year in 2013, the ninth inning belonged to Kenley Jansen. But Jansen isn’t the Dodgers’ closer anymore. His recent struggles have earned him a demotion, whether the Dodgers explicitly say it or not.

Instead, the high-leverage late innings will be distributed on a case-by-case basis. On Monday, Roberts chose right-hander Blake Treinen, perhaps the best closer in baseball two years ago, to pitch the ninth inning with two right-handed hitters – Austin Riley and Ronald Acuña Jr. -- and Freddie Freeman were due up.

Disaster struck five pitches into the outing. Riley, Atlanta’s No. 9 hitter, launched a 98-mph sinker 448 feet over the left-center wall at Globe Life Field to ignite half of the first group of fans to attend a Major League Baseball game in 2020.

Acuña Jr. doubled next. Two batters later, Marcell Ozuna smacked an RBI single before Jake McGee was summoned. Two batters after that, Ozzie Albies Jr. delivered a backbreaking two-run home run.

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The Braves improved to 6-0 in the postseason. The Dodgers took their first loss in nearly three weeks. Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:05 p.m. PT.

“I felt that run [of batters] right there was really good for Blake,” Roberts said. “He’s going to have to do it again. It just didn’t work out.”

————

Dodgers’ uncertainty of Kenley Jansen’s ability to close goes all the way to the top

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Photos from Dodgers’ loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of NLCS

Braves’ Game 1 starter Max Fried started career in SoCal with Encino Little League

Braves-Dodgers schedule
The Dodgers will be the home team for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7. All times are Pacific. All game at Arlington, Texas.

Game 1: Atlanta 5, Dodgers 1
Game 2: Today, 3 p.m., Atlanta vs. Dodgers, FS1
Game 3: Wednesday, 3 p.m., Dodgers vs. Atlanta, FS1
Game 4: Thursday, TBD, Dodgers vs. Atlanta, TBD
Game 5*: Friday, TBD, Dodgers vs. Atlanta, TBD
Game 6*: Saturday, TBD, Atlanta vs. Dodgers, TBD
Game 7*: Sunday, TBD, Atlanta vs. Dodgers, TBD

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*-If necessary

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LAKERS

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: They have let bygones be bygones, their love for the Lakers and controlling owner Jeanie Buss the common thread that has allowed team executive Rob Pelinka and the iconic Magic Johnson to be of one accord.

The truest sign that their relationship had grown stronger despite some obstacles was when Pelinka reached out to Johnson on Sunday night after the Lakers won the NBA championship by defeating the Miami Heat.

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Pelinka, the vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Lakers, wanted Johnson to share in the glorious moment.

The two have repaired their relationship since Johnson abruptly resigned as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations on the last night of the 2018-19 season and then said his reason for departing was because he felt Pelinka was “backstabbing and whispering” about him within the organization.

But Johnson and Pelinka have had continuing conversations over the last year, culminating in that phone call after the Lakers won their 17th NBA championship, tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most in league history.

“I still have such gratitude for the two seasons I got to work with Earvin, and he’s definitely a part of tonight with his vision and working side by side,” Pelinka said in a videoconference with the media late Sunday night. “He’s an unbelievable person, and we have a great, incredibly strong relationship. He was one of the first calls tonight. Had a great talk with him.

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“But I think what I have learned in life is the hard times or the trials is when you grow, and you turn to your faith, you turn to your family, your loved ones, and more than anything else, I think the lesson that all of us on the inside know is you’ve got to just be about the work. You can’t really get caught up in the noise. … I’m just grateful that the work that we put in led to this, and all the other stuff really doesn’t mean anything when you’re holding the trophy.”

Johnson said he was not about living his life “holding grudges,” perceived or otherwise.

The success of the franchise was most important, Johnson said. Seeing LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers climb to the same heights as Kobe Bryant did while capturing five titles wearing the purple and gold meant everything.

“After I left, that stuff was in the past,” Johnson told The Times in a phone call. “But I was still a Laker and nothing changed there. And the love that Jeanie and I have for each other will always be there and always has been there. That didn’t change either. I’ve always wanted the best for the Lakers, and that’s why anything that I can do to help the Lakers back to winning an NBA championship I was going to do. Rob and I were able to move past the situation, and now we’re good. We’re friends. We were talking about repeating last night.”

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————

No Lakers victory parade and celebration planned yet in L.A.

For J.R. Smith, there’s only one way to celebrate an NBA championship — shirtless

At least 76 arrested in downtown L.A. after Lakers’ championship win

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: A wrenching Chargers season continued Monday when they blew a 17-point first-half lead for the second consecutive week in a 30-27 overtime loss at New Orleans.

They had a chance to win on the final play of regulation, but Michael Badgley’s 50-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright. Badgley also missed a first-quarter extra point that proved vital.

The loss was the fourth straight for the Chargers (1-4). They’ve now dropped 13 of their last 15 one-score games dating to Week 2 of last season.

The winning points for the Saints came on a 36-yard field goal by Wil Lutz on the first possession of overtime.

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The Chargers had one final chance but their possession in overtime ended near midfield when Mike Williams took a short pass from Justin Herbert and narrowly missed converting a fourth down.

The Chargers now begin their off week, which on Sunday was moved up from mid-November in response to league-wide schedule changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are set to return to action Oct. 25 against Jacksonville at SoFi Stadium.

JOE MORGAN

Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine, has died. He was 77.

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He died at his home Sunday in Danville, California, family spokesman James Davis said in statement Monday. Morgan was suffering from a nerve condition, a form of polyneuropathy.

“Joe Morgan was quite simply the best baseball player I played against or saw,” Reds Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench texted to The Associated Press.

Morgan’s death marked the latest among major league greats this year: Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline.

“All champions. This hurts the most,” Bench said.

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Morgan was a two-time NL Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. A dynamo known for flapping his left elbow at the plate, Little Joe could hit a home run, steal a base and disrupt any game with his daring.

Most of all, he completed Cincinnati’s two-time World Series championship team, boosting a club featuring the likes of Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Bench to back-to-back titles.

“Joe would always amaze me,” Rose told the AP. “He was by far the most intelligent player I’ve ever been around. He rubbed off on all of us. A big part of the Big Red Machine.”

Morgan’s tiebreaking single with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 7 in 1975 gave the Reds the crown in a classic matchup with Boston, and he spurred a four-game sweep of the Yankees the next season.

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Morgan was the league’s MVP both years. And his Hall of Fame teammates and manager readily acknowledged he was the one that got it all started.

Often regarded as the greatest second baseman in history, he was an easy first-ballot pick for Cooperstown.

“He was just a good major league player when it didn’t mean anything,” former Reds and Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson once said. “But when it meant something, he was a Hall of Famer.”

MLB PLAYOFFS

All times Pacific
AL Championship Series
Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays
all games at San Diego
Tampa Bay is home team in Games 1, 2, 6 and 7

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Game 1: Tampa Bay 2, Houston 1
Game 2: Tampa Bay 4, Houston 2
Game 3: Today, 5:30 p.m., TBS
Game 4: Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., TBS
Game 5*: Thursday, TBD, TBS
Game 6*: Friday, TBD, TBS
Game 7*: Saturday, TBD, TBS

*-if necessary

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Dodgers vs. Atlanta, 3 p.m., FS1

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1893 — The U.S. yacht Vigilant wins the America’s Cup with a three-race sweep over the British challenger Valkyrie II.

1903 — The Boston Pilgrims win the first World Series, 5 games to 3, with a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1947 — The NHL holds its first All-Star game with the All-Stars beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3. Toronto’s Harry Watson scores the game’s first goal and assists on the other two goals. Trailing 3-2 after two periods, Montreal’s Maurice Richard and Chicago’s Doug Bentley each score to give the All-Stars the win.

1960 — Bill Mazeroski opens the bottom of the ninth with a home run off Ralph Terry of the New York Yankees to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 10-9 victory and the World Series championship.

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1961 — Jacky Lee of the Houston Oilers passes for 457 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-31 tie with the Boston Patriots. Charley Hennigan of the Oilers catches 13 passes for 272 yards.

1963 — Mickey Wright wins her fourth LPGA championship in six years by beating Mary Lena Faulk, Mary Mills and Louise Suggs by two strokes.

1985 — Phil Simms of the New York Giants passes for 513 yards with an NFL-record 62 pass attempts in a 35-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Simms completes 40 passes with 29 for first downs, also an NFL record.

1998 — For the first time in NBA history, the league cancels regular season games after labor talks break off.

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2001 — DeShaun Foster of UCLA runs for a school-record 301 yards and four touchdowns as the Bruins beat Washington 35-13.

2001 — Georgia Southern fullback Adrian Peterson is held to 71 yards rushing, snapping his NCAA-record streak of 36 straight regular-season games with at least 100 yards.

2011 — American Jordyn Wieber wins another gold medal, beating Russia’s Viktoria Komova for the all-around title at the world gymnastics championships in Tokyo. Wieber, who led the Americans to the team title two days earlier, finishes with 59.382 points, just 0.033 ahead of the Russian.

2013 — Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto, six weeks removed from a bout of malaria, breaks the course mark in capturing the Chicago Marathon. Kimetto finishes in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 45 seconds, leading a 1-2-3 finish for Kenyan men. He beats the mark of 2:04:38 set by Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede last year.

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2017 — Gustav Nyquist scores twice and Detroit has four goals in the third period to beat Vegas 6-3, handing the NHL’s newest franchise its first loss. Vegas is the first NHL expansion team to win its first three games.

And finally

Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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