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The Sports Report: Dodgers advance to the World Series

Arlington, Texas, Sunday, October 18, 2020. Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger.
Cody Bellinger homers in the seventh inning in Game 7 of the NLCS.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: Manager Dave Roberts, wearing a light blue face mask stretched below his face, held back tears Sunday night. He was recalling everything the Dodgers went through to get to where he stood, on a platform down the right-field line in a sparsely filled ballpark 1400 miles from Dodger Stadium.

The time away from family since reporting for an uncertain season in early July. The stance the team took against racial injustice. All the peculiarities playing a 60-game season during a pandemic presented. Through it all, he said, his club stuck together. Then he suppressed the bubbling emotions to deliver a message.

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“We have a lot of work to do,” Roberts said. “But for the Dodgers fans who are here, the ones who aren’t here, we love you, we’re thinking about you, and this year is our year! This is our year!”

It still can be the Dodgers’ year, the year they finally win their first World Series since 1988, because they clawed back from a 3-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series to beat the Atlanta Braves. They completed the comeback with a 4-3 win in Game 7 on Cody Bellinger’s go-ahead home run in the seventh inning before an announced attendance of XXXX at Globe Life Field, the neutral site locale that has become home since they entered the bubble more than two weeks ago.

The Dodgers won three straight elimination games to win a playoff series for the second time in franchise history, joining the 1981 club that went on to win the World Series in a strike-shortened season. They are the first team to ever win a seven-game series after facing a 3-1 deficit. They’ll play Game 1 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 5:09 p.m. PDT.

“Man, we never gave up,” said shortstop Corey Seager, who was named NLCS MVP after slugging an NLCS-record five home runs. “This team never quit, we came out every night and expected to win, even when we were down 3-1.”

The at-bats that propelled the Dodgers to their third National League pennant in four years were fitting.

The Dodgers were trailing 3-2 in the sixth inning when Kiké Hernández, pinch-hitting for Joc Pederson, fouled off three straight 2-2 pitches against left-hander A.J. Minter, two days removed from throwing 42 pitches in three dominant innings. Then Minter fired a 97-mph fastball, the eighth pitch of the encounter, over the middle. Hernández didn’t miss and the game was tied on his eighth career postseason home run.

“He made one mistake and I was lucky enough to put a good swing on it,” said Hernández, who became the first pinch-hitter in postseason history with a game-tying or go-ahead homo run in an win-or-go home game.

One inning later, Bellinger was at the plate with the bases empty. Chris Martin stood 60 feet, 6 inches away. Martin was one out from keeping the score tied. Bellinger wouldn’t let him slip away.

The count was 2-2 when Bellinger fouled off three straight pitches — two sinkers and a cutter. The next pitch, the eighth of the battle, was a 94-mph sinker that Martin wishes he could have back. It was up and over the plate. Bellinger feasted, launching it over the right-field wall to snap a 3-3 tie.

Bellinger walked down the first-base line, holding a smile until he started his trot. The celebration was aggressive, too much so. Bellinger jammed his shoulder after banging arms with Kiké Hernández. He winced and ran straight into the trainer’s room.

“They popped it back in so I could go out and play defense,” Bellinger said. “It kind of hurt. I’m gonna maybe use my left arm. I’ve never dislocated that one.”

————

Bill Plaschke: Dodgers go from October madness to magic and punch their World Series ticket

Dylan Hernández: From child prodigy to Game 7 stalwart, Julio Urías etches his name in Dodgers lore

Dodgers’ Kiké Hernández shows he can bash with the best in Game 7 win over Braves

Justin Turner’s Superman play crucial for Dodgers in NLCS Game 7 win

Photos: Dodgers defeat Braves in NLCS Game 7

Dodgers and Braves should be among elite National League teams for years

Dodgers-Braves schedule

Game 1: Atlanta 5, Dodgers 1

Game 2: Atlanta 8, Dodgers 7

Game 3: Dodgers 15, Atlanta 3

Game 4: Atlanta 10, Dodgers 2

Game 5: Dodgers 7, Atlanta 3

Game 6: Dodgers 3, Atlanta 1

Game 7: Dodgers 4, Atlanta 3

Dodgers-Rays World Series schedule

All times Pacific

Dodgers are home team for Game 1, 2, 6 and 7

All games at Arlington, Texas

Game 1: Tuesday, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 2: Wednesday, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 3: Friday, Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 4: Saturday, Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 5*: Sunday, Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 6*: Tuesday, Oct. 27, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 7*: Wed., Oct. 28, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

*-if necessary

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RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: The Rams’ fast start, forged against teams from the NFL’s worst division, had the ominous look of an illusion Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium.

In their first game against an NFC West opponent, the Rams’ offense stalled, the defense failed to produce pressure and untimely penalties sabotaged several opportunities.

That was more than enough for the San Francisco 49ers to take advantage of and show that they remain a force.

Jimmy Garoppolo passed for three touchdowns as the defending division-champion 49ers defeated the Rams 24-16.

After beating up on the NFC East, the Rams got a reality check as their record dropped to 4-2.

“Just too many things that we’re not accustomed to doing,” Rams coach Sean McVay said, adding, “We had a lot of our players that we count on that didn’t come through in some situations that they typically do.”

Quarterback Jared Goff struggled from the outset, missing receivers nearly the entire game. An offense that was averaging nearly 140 yards rushing produced only 113 against the 49ers (3-3), who bounced back after getting routed by the Miami Dolphins.

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Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp ‘little bit out of sync’ in Rams’ loss

49ers might have been down, but show they are not out after handling Rams

LAFC

Teenager Christian Torres scored his first Major League Soccer goal in stoppage time to give LAFC a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday night.

Torres, a 16-year-old homegrown player, left-footed a shot that Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark couldn’t get to.

Jeremy Ebobisse scored early in the second half for the Timbers (9-5-4), who continued to wrestle for the top spot in the Western Conference standings with the defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders, who were playing later against San Jose.

LAFC (7-7-4) had seven key players missing because of international duty and injury, including MLS top scorer Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez, who played for Uruguay and are now quarantining, and Carlos Vela, who is rehabbing a knee injury.

GALAXY

Kevin Baxter on the Galaxy: The Galaxy were playing to end a six-game losing streak and to save their coach’s job Sunday, not necessarily in that order. And they got one of those things accomplished in a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The fate of coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, however, remains very much unsettled because while the win halted the losing streak a game short of equaling the franchise record, the team remains buried in last in the Western Conference standings, four places and three points out of a playoff berth with three weeks left in the regular season.

The game’s only goal came from Kai Koreniuk, his first in MLS, a minute into stoppage time. Cristian Pavón got the assist.

The last time the team won a game, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was still on the Supreme Court and the Dodgers hadn’t clinched a playoff berth, much less a spot in the World Series.

In fact, aside from a 15-day stretch in late August and early September, the Galaxy (5-9-3) hadn’t won another game for Schelotto all season. In the last six weeks the team, which has plenty of talent but has lacked both direction and a defined playing style, has been outscored 19-6 and has led for just 38 minutes.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

No games scheduled.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1940 — Alabama snaps Tennessee’s defensive scoreless streak of 71 quarters but still loses 27-12. Tennessee hadn’t allowed a point since Oct. 29, 1938, when it beat LSU 14-6.

1957 — Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadians scores his 500th career goal in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Black Hawks.

1960 — After 13 years in Minneapolis, the Lakers opened their inaugural season in Los Angeles with a 140-123 loss at Cincinnati.

1980 — Dan Fouts of San Diego passes for 444 yards and four touchdowns as the Chargers beat the New York Giants 44-7.

1985 — Robbie Bosco of Brigham Young passes for 585 yards in a 45-23 victory over New Mexico.

1985 — Dale Klein of Nebraska ties an NCAA record with seven field goals in a 28-20 victory over Missouri.

1986 — Lloyd Burruss of Kansas City intercepts three passes and returns two for touchdowns to lead the Chiefs to a 42-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

1994 — Duke beats North Carolina 3-2 in women’s soccer to end the Tar Heels’ unbeaten streak of 101 games.

1997 — Pittsburgh goaltender Tom Barrasso makes 22 saves to earn his 300th career victory with a 4-1 win over Florida. Barrasso becomes the first American-born goaltender and 13th overall to record 300 wins.

2003 — Isaac Bruce becomes the 18th player in NFL history to top 10,000 yards receiving, catching nine passes for 129 yards as St. Louis beat Green Bay 34-24.

2008 — The Tampa Bay Rays hold off the defending champion Boston Red Sox 3-1 behind Matt Garza’s masterful pitching in Game 7 of the AL championship series.

2012 — The National Hockey League announces the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through November 1. A total of 135 regular-season games are now lost from Oct. 11 through Nov. 1.

2013 — Connor Halliday completes 58 of 89 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions for Washington State in a 62-38 loss to Oregon. He breaks the FBS-level attempts record of 83 set by Drew Brees at Purdue in 1998.

2013 — Michigan’s Devin Gardner sets school records with 584 yards of offense and 503 yards passing and ties a mark with five TDs to help the Wolverines outscore Indiana 63-47. Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon has a Big Ten-record 369 yards receiving and two TDs.

2013 — Baylor ties a school record with their 10th straight win, 71-7 over Iowa State. It’s the fourth game the 12th-ranked Bears score 70-or-more points in a game this season, the most by a ranked team in one season.

2014 — Peyton Manning breaks Brett Favre’s NFL record of 508 touchdown career passes and he throws four TD passes in Denver’s 42-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The record-breaker was an 8-yarder to Demaryius Thomas with 3:09 left in the first half. Manning reaches the milestone in his 246th regular-season game. Favre needed 302.

2014 — DeMarco Murray becomes the first running back in NFL history to start a season with seven straight 100-yard games in a 31-21 win over the New York Giants. Murray, with 128 yards and a touchdown, breaks Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s 56-year-old record.

And finally

Cody Bellinger hits a mammoth Game 7 homer. 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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