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National League roundup: Braves beat Reds in 13; Marlins, Cardinals win

Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman follows through on his game-winning base hit against the Cincinnati Reds.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Freddie Freeman singled home the winning run in the 13th inning, finally ending the longest scoreless duel in postseason history as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 in the opener of their NL wild-card series on Wednesday.

The East champion Braves won the first game of a postseason series for the first time since the 2001 NL Division Series and can wrap up the best-of-three series on Thursday. If they do, it will snap a record-tying streak of 10 straight playoff round losses.

What began as a pitching showdown between between Cy Young contenders Trevor Bauer of the Reds and Atlanta’s Max Fried devolved into a strikeout contest.

The teams combined for a postseason record 37 strikeouts — 21 by the Braves. After a couple of hits in the 13th against Archie Bradley, Freeman drove one into center field off Amir Garrett with one out to end a game that dragged on for more than 4 1/2 hours.

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A four-time All-Star, Freeman produced another big year in a pandemic-shortened season after a battle with COVID-19 in July so severe that he said he prayed: “Please don’t take me.”

A.J. Minter escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the 13th for the win.

It was historic as the first postseason game to be scoreless after 11 innings.

Marlins 5, Cubs 1

Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer off a fading Kyle Hendricks in the seventh inning, and the Miami Marlins beat the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Wednesday in Game 1 of their NL wild-card series.

Jesus Aguilar also homered and Sandy Alcantara pitched three-hit ball into the seventh as Miami conjured up memories of past playoff magic in the franchise’s first postseason game since it won the World Series in 2003. The Marlins, who rallied past the Cubs in a memorable NLCS that year, have never lost a playoff series.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Thursday. Yu Darvish starts for the Central champion Cubs, while rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez pitches for upstart Miami, looking to make an unexpected division series trip in the same season that roughly half the roster was sidelined by COVID-19.

The Marlins may be without center fielder Starling Marte after he was hit on the left hand by a fastball in the ninth inning. Marte was in obvious pain and quickly retreated down the clubhouse tunnel. He was replaced by Monte Harrison. No immediate update was given on his status.

Miami was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position before Dickerson drove Hendricks’ 106th pitch just over the wall in left-center for his first career playoff homer, erasing the Cubs’ 1-0 lead on a cool, blustery afternoon.

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After Hendricks was pulled by first-year manager David Ross, Marte singled and Aguilar hit a drive to right off Jeremy Jeffress for his third career playoff homer.

Hendricks (0-1) matched a season high with 106 pitches in his first start in a week. Known for his pinpoint control, the right-hander issued three walks and hit a batter. He had permitted just two hits before the Marlins chased him with three in a row in the seventh, culminating in Dickerson’s one-out homer.

Hendricks had walked two or fewer batters in 41 consecutive starts dating to April of 2019.

Alcantara (1-0) struck out four and walked three in 6 2/3 innings in his first career playoff start.

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Chicago got its only run on Ian Happ’s two-out drive in the fifth for his first postseason homer. Happ had two of the Cubs’ four hits.

Cardinals 7, Padres 4

Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run during a four-run first inning, St. Louis’ bullpen held strong after starter Kwang Hyun Kim stumbled in his playoff debut and the Cardinals ruined the San Diego Padres’ long-awaited return to the playoffs with a 7-4 victory Wednesday in the opener of their NL wild-card series.

The Cardinals need one more win to eliminate the Padres from the postseason for the fourth time since 1996. They swept the Padres in the NL Division Series in 1996 and 2005, and won 3-1 in 2006, which was the last time San Diego made the postseason. Game 2 is Thursday.

The Cardinals got a chance to catch their breath with two days off before this series began. That came after a season-closing grind that saw them play 53 games in 44 days, including 11 doubleheaders, with only two days off. The team had its season suspended for 14 games from late July to mid-August after 10 players and eight staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and had to scramble to fit in the makeups.

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Right-hander Chris Paddack (0-1) failed to give the Padres the boost they desperately needed after Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet were left off the wild-card roster due to injuries suffered in their final regular-season starts.

Paddack lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs.

After retiring leadoff batter Kolten Wong, Paddack allowed the next five batters to reach. San Diego native Tommy Edman singled and Goldschmidt homered to left. Dylan Carlson doubled, 38-year-old Yadier Molina hit an RBI single and Paul DeJong doubled before Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly.

Paddack allowed three straight hits to open the third, including DeJong’s RBI single, before being replaced by Matt Strahm. Carpenter added an RBI single for a 6-2 lead.

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Paddack allowed eight hits, struck out one and walked none.

Giovanny Gallegos (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win and Alex Reyes got the last four outs for the save. Five relievers combined for 5 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and an unearned run.

Kim, a 32-year-old rookie, allowed three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, struck out two and walked two. He signed with the Cardinals after playing 13 seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization, including winning four championships and one MVP Award. He made three relief appearances for Korea at Petco Park in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Kim allowed Eric Hosmer’s sac fly in the first, Aaron Nola’s sac fly in the second and Tommy Pham’s RBI single in the third.

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Nola hit another sac fly in the sixth. Fernando Tatis Jr., who had reached twice, scored twice and hit a ball to the warning track in right, struck out with runners on first and second to end the inning.

Tatis came up with two on and two out in the eighth and grounded out. Rookie Jake Cronenworth had a baserunning blunder in both the and eighth.

Dexter Fowler hit an RBI single in the ninth off Trevor Rosenthal, who started his big league career with the Cardinals.

St. Louis’ Harrison Bader struck out five times. The center fielder did make a nice catch up against the fence of Wil Myers’ fly ball to end the game.


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