Joc Pederson credits his postseason success to “not making any moment bigger than it needs to be.”
With another jolt, Pederson put the Atlanta Braves on the verge of advancing in the playoffs.
Pederson kept enhancing his “Joctober” nickname with a three-run, pinch-hit homer and the Braves shut down Milwaukee once again, beating the Brewers 3-0 on Monday to take a 2-1 edge in the NL Division Series.
“It was pretty special,” Pederson said of the fifth-inning drive. “To come up big in a moment like that was pretty cool.”
In a matchup dominated by pitching, Ian Anderson and the Braves bullpen combined on a five-hitter and won by a 3-0 score for the second straight game.
Boosted by shortstop Dansby Swanson’s athletic defense, Atlanta can try to reach its second straight NL Championship Series when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.
Pederson’s homer was his second of the series, both as a pinch-hitter against Adrian Houser. Pederson singled as a pinch-hitter in his only other at-bat in this series, and has driven in four of Atlanta’s seven runs.
Pederson has hit 11 postseason home runs overall and helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series last year with his longballs. He then signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs in the winter and was traded to Atlanta in July.
“He’s been in the big moment, the big stage, and he’s performed and guys appreciate that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Since winning the opening game of the series, the NL Central champion Brewers have not scored in 19 consecutive innings. They were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in this loss.
Asked about the poorly timed offensive slump, manager Craig Counsell said, “We’re in it. I thought we swung the bats better today. ... We’ve got to catch a break, frankly.”
Anderson was dominant for the NL East champion Braves, allowing three hits over five innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Will Smith, the fourth Braves reliever, pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the series.
Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta pitched four scoreless innings and was pulled for a pinch-hitter when the Brewers threatened in the fifth.
Houser gave up singles to Travis d’Arnaud and Swanson to open the fifth. Pederson, hitting for Anderson, pulled a high, inside fastball deep into the right-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
“It didn’t look like a bad pitch to me, but give him credit,” Counsell said.
Asked how he pulled the high pitch for the homer, Pederson shrugged and said, “I guess I’m a pretty good player, I don’t know. I knocked it out of the yard.”
White Sox-Astros Game 4 postponed
Game 4 of the AL Division Series between the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox has been postponed because of rain in the forecast. The teams are now set to meet Tuesday afternoon.
José Urquidy was scheduled to start for Houston, with Carlos Rodón pitching for Chicago. The Astros lead the best-of-five series 2-1.
White Sox stay alive with Game 3 win
Two big swings by pint-sized Leury García. A rule-testing run by Yasmani Grandal. Solid relief work from Liam Hendriks and company.
Right when the Chicago White Sox got in big trouble, they found a way.
García and Grandal homered, and Grandal’s borderline baserunning helped the White Sox top the Houston Astros 12-6 on Sunday night to stay alive in their AL Division Series.
Backed by a boisterous crowd of 40,288, the AL Central champions erased a 5-1 deficit in the franchise’s first home playoff game in 13 years, trimming Houston’s series edge to 2-1. Tim Anderson collected three more hits, and Ryan Tepera started a stellar finish for Chicago’s bullpen after Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech (1-0) struggled.
“It’s a real tough-minded bunch,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said, “and sometimes you get rewarded with a comeback like that.”
Houston was hoping to sweep its way into its fifth consecutive appearance in the AL Championship Series. The AL West champions got off to a fast start behind Kyle Tucker, but they went down in order in the last five innings.