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Dodgers Outlast Giants in Thrilling Game 5, Advance to Play Braves

Relive in real time the epic conclusion of the NLDS between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In a year where the Giants were always one step ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West, Los Angeles finally got the best of San Francisco.

Cody Bellinger laced a one-out RBI single to right field in the ninth inning to give the defending champions the lead. And then Max Scherzer, on two days rest, stalked and snarled his way from the bullpen and earned the first save of his professional baseball career as the Dodgers beat the Giants, 2–1. 

Los Angeles is moving on to face the Braves at Truist Park on Saturday in the National League Championship Series—a rematch of last year's series, which the Dodgers won in seven games. 

The ending of Game 5 of the NLDS was controversial, as replays showed that Wilmer Flores, whose strike out ended the game, had actually checked his swing but was punched out by the first base umpire. 

Still, that's not be how we should remember the epic conclusion of this Dodgers-Giants series. Relive all the action from Thursday's game with our live blog.

Oct 14, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) reacts after defeating the San Francisco Giants in game five of the 2021 NLDS at Oracle Park.

All times listed are EST

Matt Martell (8:55): Howdy, partner.

Emma Baccellieri (8:55): Hello!

MM (8:56): Ready to get this thing going?

EB: (8:56): Sure am. What are your thoughts on the Dodgers' decision to open the game with Corey Knebel instead of Julio Urías?

MM (8:57): Well, first off, I love the gamesmanship. I like that we finally got a weird wrinkle between two teams that are facing each other for the 24th time this year.

That said, I don’t know how much of an impact it makes. Sure, it keeps the Giants from stacking all their right-handed-hitting platoon players at the top of the order, but they seemed to have adjusted fine with the lineup they put together. They still have Darin Ruf in the two-hole, anticipating that Urías will still be in the game for at least one, probably two, of his plate appearances. And they have lefty-hitting Tommy La Stella leading off, Brandon Crawford in the cleanup spot and Mike Yastrzemski hitting sixth. That’s fairly well-balanced. It does mean we don’t see LaMonte Wade Jr. until later in the game. The Giants smartly threw Wilmer Flores in the No. 8 spot so he’d be there for when Urías enters the game.

EB (9:00): So I don’t dislike this move. But I’m not totally crazy about it, either. It would be an easier call for me if a) the bulk guy in question was on short rest, or b) either of the pitchers involved had extreme platoon splits. Yet neither of those apply here: Urías is fully rested, with fairly minimal splits this season, while Knebel actually has reverse splits. I do think there’s an advantage to be gained here—but I think it’s far, far smaller than most cases where we think about an opener being useful.

As for what it does to the Giants’ lineup, I think they played this well. They did add more lefties (3) than they had when they last faced Urías (1), but there’s an interesting wrinkle in there: The left-handed trio includes Tommy La Stella, who was supposed to be on-call only as a pinch-hitter today, since he’s battling an Achilles’ injury. But with Knebel starting, he’s hitting leadoff instead, which guarantees him an immediate plate appearance against a righty. If he gets on base, that gives the team a chance to pull him without risking any serious exposure of him on defense, which actually might work out as an advantage for the Giants.

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MM (9:05): What’s your prediction for tonight?

EB (9:06): I think Giants (but not by much!).

I also think we see Max Scherzer in relief at some point.

MM (9:06): Is he the losing pitcher tonight?

EB (9:08): Oooh good question. I’m going to go with no but I think it’s possible!

MM (9:09): I think the Giants win as well. I’m going with a 3–2 final. Logan Webb goes seven and allows one run. Buster Posey and Kris Bryant both hit home runs. Albert Pujols hits a late pinch-hit home run (because I’m romantic about baseball), but it won’t be enough.

MM (9:14): Two hard-hit balls to start the game for the Dodgers. Mookie Betts reaches on the single and then Corey Seager ropes a 105.9-mph lineout to left. Logan Webb makes a big pitch to get Trea Turner to bounce into a double play. Let’s see if that’s enough to calm the 24-year-old Webb down a bit.

EB (9:16): And now we get to see how well Knebel works as the opener!

MM (9:19): It’s not looking good for Knebel!

EB (9:19): Oooooh, man, the bounce on that double from Buster Posey — Mookie’s usually great about reading those!

Yeah, that’s two hard-hit balls in a row, even though Ruf’s was caught.

MM (9:20): They’re swinging early - Ruf and Posey both crush fastballs to right field. Ruff’s fly ball died in the right-CF triangle.

EB (9:20): Interesting—the Dodgers have Brusdar Graterol warming, rather than going straight to Urías.

I’d imagine that would still be aiming to bring Urías in by the third or so, of course, but curious to think about padding out with other relievers before turning to him.

EB (9:25): A huuuuge strikeout there to end the inning. But I think they should feel lucky to have gotten out of there without damage.

MM (9:26): Nasty hook. Not sure how much longer we’ll see Knebel. If the Dodgers don’t want to have Urías come in just yet to face the righties at the bottom of the Giants’ lineup, they should probably turn to Graterol.

MM (9:31): Brandon Crawford makes it look so easy.

EB (9:31): Yeah, that was soooo smooth.

MM (9:32): Yes! He was playing deep and toward the 6-hole there against Justin Turner, who hit a slower grounder that Crawford had to charge. He broke down his feet to perfection, made that alligator scoop that all good youth coaches teach and released quickly across the diamond. Beautiful.

EB (9:36): And we have Graterol in for the second—probably the smartest move, as you said, to create a cushion so that Urías doesn’t have to face the righties at the bottom of the lineup.

My biggest takeaway from watching him is just how easy he makes 100 mph look. It’s ridiculous.

MM (9:36): I love that Kris Bryant has started two of these five games in center field. He’s also raking so far this series, hitting .462 with a homer entering today’s game.

MM (9:38): That’s terrifying.

Bryant breaks his bat, with most of it helicoptering over third baseman Justin Turner’s head. He beats the throw to first for an infield single.

MM (9:43): Wilmer Flores flips a single to left field, setting up runners on first and second with one out. It’s Longo Time.

MM (9:45): Never said Longo Time was a good thing for the Giants. He pops out to first.

EB (9:46): Hahaha. Well, now we’re down to Logan Webb Time… which, probably bears noting, he is a decent hitter for a pitcher! But, uh, low bar.

EB (9:48): “Low bar” epitomized here by his striking out on three consecutive pitches. And that’s probably the last we see of Graterol.

EB (9:51): Cody Bellinger has been generally lost at the plate for a while now, but man, Logan Webb made him look downright silly on that K.

MM (9:51): Yeah, that two-seamer that ran back over the inside part of the plate was pretty.

MM (9:56): Logan Webb is dealing right now. He’s faced the minimum through three innings. That two-seamer/slider combo is working brilliantly.

MM (9:58): As expected, here’s Julio Urías to start the third inning. And also as expected, Donovan Solano is pinch-hitting for the lefty-hitting La Stella.

EB (10:05): Mookie Betts is the only player to get on base for the Dodgers tonight, and now he’s done it twice

MM (10:05): That, after Webb threw Betts a ridiculous changeup that he swung over top of.

EB (10:12): Ooh, wow, Webb’s first walk of the night. He got Will Smith to chase that slider once and then just couldn’t do it again. That puts runners on first and second with two outs for Justin Turner at the plate.

MM (10:14): Wilmer Flores with some nifty first-base footwork to save Webb of an errant throw and get the Giants out of the inning.

EB (10:15): All three outs in that inning were on dribblers — hardest-hit of the three outs was Seager’s 66-mph grounder.

MM (10:15): Right—Webb hasn’t worked into much trouble tonight, and even that wasn’t too bad. He’s got 52 pitches. Wonder how long Gabe Kapler sticks with him.

EB (10:16): Friend of the Live Blog Steph Apstein has a Scherzer update: 

MM (10:16): HAHAHAHAHA! Max would be insufferable in the dugout tonight.

EB (10:17): Regarding Webb: Unless he starts obviously laboring or runs into trouble, I can’t see a reason not to let him go two or so more innings.

MM (10:18): Brandon Crawford says, “Take THAT Travis Jackson!” He shoots a single to left field as the TBS broadcast talks about the greatest shortstops in franchise history.

MM (10:24): Brilliant base running there from Crawford to advance on an Urías dirt ball. Took off as soon as it hit the dirt, and even with Smith blocking it, Crawford made it to second easily.

EB (10:26): Austin Slater, pinch-hitting for Yaz, bounces one up the middle, advancing Crawford to third while he’s easily thrown out at first. Wilmer Flores’s time to shine.

MM (10:28): Wilmer pops out, but he still has time. It’s always Wilmer Time, IMO, even when he’s out.

EB (10:29): And the Giants can’t make anything happen off their best chance to score yet: After his lead-off single, Crawford is left stranded at third.

EB (10:31): As we hit the fifth: Overall, I’ve been really into this so far! But I feel like the difference for the Giants could be that it’s just so easy to envision Webb going deep here, and he’s been all but unhittable so far.

MM (10:33): I know. He’s due up second next inning. If he gets through the fifth easily, I can’t imagine Kapler would pinch-hit for Webb.

MM (10:34): I absolutely love Webb’s inside two-seamer to lefties. He just punched out Gavin Lux with a doozy there for the first out.

EB (10:40): Another big strikeout there from Webb — this time he gets Chris Taylor to whiff on the sinker. He’s at 72 pitches through the fifth now.

MM (10:42): And these have been relatively easy innings, too. I’m thinking he gets through seven.

EB (10:44): Yep. They do have lots of options out of the bullpen—Kapler confirmed that both Kevin Gausman and Alex Wood are possibilities—but with Webb looking this good, I’d let him keep going as long as possible.

MM (10:45): If Webb really were the Second Coming of MadBum, he’d go yard here.

Alas. He whiffed.

EB (10:48): Almost an immaculate inning for Julio Urías! (10 pitches—he threw one ball to Longoria.) Granted, it was the bottom of the lineup, but still, a lot of great-looking stuff there.

EB (10:53): Mookie Betts is now 3-for-3 against Webb. Everyone else is 0-for-15.

EB (10:55): And now he’s stolen second—not to brag, but as The Closer in our Five-Tool Newsletter today, the detail I picked out was that Logan Webb is not great at preventing steals (just about the only thing he’s not great at!), and there the Dodgers are exploiting it.

MM (10:55) Brag away!

EB (10:56): No longer scoreless!! Corey Seager, RBI double, 1–0, Dodgers.

MM (10:57): That’s future Yankee Corey Seager.

MM (11:00): Neither of those were hit particularly hard: Betts’s single (81.3 mph), Seager’s double (74.3 mph). Still, Webb’s pitch count is up to 87 with two outs for Will Smith here in the sixth. My guess is this is his last batter.

EB (11:00): Yeah, I think you’re probably right, there’s just no margin for error here.

MM (11:00): Smith just missed it. He flies out to deep left field to end the threat. 

EB (11:06): That didn’t last long. Tie game! Darin Ruf blasted that one to center.

MM (11:07): Darin Ruf crushes it 452 feet: 110.1-mph exit velocity. Wow!

MM (11:11): This is a good point from Steph. Ruf clobbered two baseball in his first two ABs.

EB (11:13): How much longer do you think they let Urías go after allowing that single to Bryant?

MM (11:14): Not sure. Crawford is the only lefty hitter remaining in the Giants’ lineup, and he made the second out of this inning. I wouldn’t let him go much longer, though.

EB (11:17): Urías gets out of the sixth by getting Austin Slater to ground into a force out—I’m guessing that’s it for him.

MM (11:20): Webb is still in to pitch the seventh!

Can’t imagine he’d be in there still if not for the Ruf home run to tie it.

EB (11:21) Yeah, for sure. But as is—I like that! I wouldn’t let him go past the seventh, and I’d pull him at the first sign of trouble here. But I think he’s been sharp enough throughout the night to let it ride here.

MM (11:21): I like it too! He’s also made Lux and Bellinger look absolutely silly so far tonight. Lux is up now, and Bellinger is on deck.

EB (11:22): A beyond-this-game question: What do you think is going on with Bellinger?

This season has just been such a mess for him that it’s hard for me to imagine he easily bounces back next year unless some clear extenuating circumstance is revealed. (Problems with that surgery on his shoulder from last winter, perhaps?)

MM (11:23): I think he’s banged up pretty badly, and has been so all year. He’s gotten into some bad habits that he hasn’t been healthy enough to work through while playing during the grind of a season.

EB (11:26): Speaking of Bellinger looking lost at the plate, a biiiiig swing and miss from him there on a Logan Webb slider to end the seventh.

MM (11:28): Just saying, my pregame prediction still stands. I said Webb would go seven innings and allow one run, with the final score being Giants 3, Dodgers 2.

EB (11:31): Blake Treinen time for the Dodgers!

He’s pitched at least an inning in every game of this series except Game 2. He did allow a run last time out, in Game 4, with Brandon Crawford getting brought home by Kris Bryant after a lead-off double.

EB (11:39): Tyler Rogers on the mound, which means it is time to share what runs through my head in every appearance he makes: I truly cannot wrap my mind around naming twins Tyler and Taylor. The chaos.

MM (11:39): Wait, they’re twins????

EB (11:39): Yes! This blew my mind: 

Because how many people are out there who feel comfortable recognizing Tyler / Taylor Rogers in a crowd out of uniform but don’t realize there are two of them??

MM (11:42): And the Dodgers get a leadoff single off Tyler—not to be confused with Taylor, his twin brother who is a lefty reliever with the Twins.

EB (11:44): Mookie Betts cannot be stopped. Another single for him, he's 4-for-4 on the night.

MM (11:45): This wouldn’t have happened if Taylor Rogers were pitching.

MM (11:47): SKI BALL! The Giants better have somebody warm, because Rogers has zero command right now.

MM (11:48): But he did just strike out Seager. Dare I say he’s effectively wild??? 

And that’ll be it for Rogers. Kapler is going to Camilo Doval to get out of this jam with two outs in the eighth. This is so, so fun.

EB (11:50): I have a feeling this one’s going extras. Which… getting seven innings from your starter versus four from your bulk guy can make a difference there!

MM (11:50): We deserve extras!

EB (11:52): Doval only needs one pitch to get out of the jam.

MM (12:01): Kenley Jansen comes in to pitch the eighth. He gets the first two outs in the inning, which brings up Buster Posey.

EB (12:01): It completely makes sense—who else could it possibly be??—but wow, what a wild bit of trivia.

EB (12:04): And this time it ends in a strikeout. Wow.

MM (12:06): Jansen is due up sixth in the top of the ninth. I’m wondering who the Dodgers turn to next if they need to pinch hit for Jansen in the ninth or 10th.

EB (12:08): Scherzer is warming!

Though frankly, with the way this is looking, I’m not sure I would be going to him now rather than potentially holding off a little…

MM (12:09): Roberts didn’t even tell him to throw. Max just stood up, ripped off the jacket and started chucking.

MM (12:10): Doval hits Justin Turner with one out. Alex Wood is now warming for the Giants. One on, one out. Lux up.

If Alex Wood gets in the game, that means it’ll be Albert Pujols Time!

This game is EVERYTHING

EB (12:12): What’s the more fairytale ending for you: Pujols comes up with the big hit or Posey gets a walk-off?

MM (12:12): Pujols gets the big hit in the top of the inning and then Posey walks it off!

Is that answer allowed?

EB (12:13): Haha yes I’ll allow it.

Also, wow, the go-ahead run in scoring position for Cody Bellinger.

MM (12:14): Kevin Gausman is also up for the Giants in the bullpen.

EB (12:17): And with an RBI single, Cody Bellinger earns back pretty much all of the goodwill he lost at the plate this year. 2–1, Dodgers, and Kapler is coming out to make a pitching change.

MM (12:19): I love that TBS is not going to a commercial here.

Gausman is taking his warm up pitches, and they’re just letting it all play out.

EB (12:20): Yes! It’s great to be able to just marinate in the drama like this

MM (12:20): Brian Anderson and Ron Darling setting the stage beautifully.

MM (12:21): Well, that didn’t work. Chris Taylor tries to bunt but pops out.

And now they need to pinch hit for Jansen. It’ll be Max Scherzer coming in to close the game out in the ninth!

EB (12:22): I’m still reeling at that decision to bunt there. Do not think that was the best choice!

MM (12:23): Not at all. If you wanna show bunt and pull back just to take a pitch and allow Bellinger to swipe second, that makes sense. But actually attempting to sacrifice and give the Giants the second out? That’s just bad.

MM (12:25): YEEEEEP! Buckle up for Max in the ninth!

He’ll face Brandon Crawford, Kris Bryant and Austin Slater.

EB (12:26): The moment has passed but I really stand by this. We missed out!

MM (12:27): I think in any elimination game that he isn’t starting, there should be cameras on him for the entirety of the game. Like a Scherzer Live Feed.

EB (12:28): 100%!

MM (12:29): Crawford slices a liner to left field, but it hangs up enough for Chris Taylor to make the play.

EB (12:30): Wow. That could be a huge error by Justin Turner allowing Kris Bryant to reach first.

EB (12:30): Puts the tying run on and gets the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of LaMonte Wade, Jr., which — who else to come up with late-night drama here??

MM (12:30): LATE NIGHT LAMONTE! He hit .586 in the ninth inning or later this year.

EB (12:33): Oh man. Scherzer gets him looking with a breaking ball right on the edge of the zone.

EB (12:35): WOW.

MM (12:35): Oh my.

EB (12:35): It’s called a swing for strike three. Game over, Dodgers win, 2–1.

MM (12:36): He didn’t swing! Oh wow—replays make it clear. He didn’t swing.

EB (12:36): That’s just an awful way to end a game as great as this one.

MM (12:36): You CAN’T end a game on that!

Check swings are not reviewable. So regardless of the evidence, this game is over. What a great game. What an awful way to end it.

EB (12:41): Well — bad taste of the last five minutes aside, what a fantastic series. It’s such a bummer that this wasn’t in a spot to go 7!

MM (12:43): Yes, let’s not let that ending overshadow how thrilling that entire series was. The only disappointment, other than the brutal swing call to end it, is that it didn’t go seven.

On the bright side, we still have more time to see Albert Pujols this postseason!

EB (12:46): I am fully here for 2021 October Hero Albert Pujols. Fingers crossed we get him.

That's all from us tonight. Thanks for hanging out, and I hope you had as much fun as we did. Keep it with us here at SI.com throughout the playoffs, and sign up for the Five-Tool Newsletter, where you'll get our MLB coverage delivered right to your inbox for free. Have a great night!

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