Clutch touch

Du­vall, Swan­son de­liver big hits in 9th to rally Braves

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Jay Co­hen

ST. LOUIS — Dansby Swan­son hit a ty­ing dou­ble with two outs in the ninth in­ning and Adam Du­vall de­liv­ered a two-run sin­gle as the Braves ral­lied past the Car­di­nals 3-1 on Sun­day to take a 2-1 lead in the NL Divi­sion Se­ries.

The Braves had man­aged just four hits off Adam Wain­wright and An­drew Miller be­fore break­ing through against closer Car­los Martinez. With two outs and run­ners on the cor­ners, Swan­son tied it at 1 with a drive off the wall in left.

Swan­son pumped his arms as he cel­e­brated on se­cond base af­ter his third hit of the game. He came through af­ter an in­ten­tional walk to Brian Mc­Cann — Swan­son’s .187 bat­ting av­er­age with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion was the low­est in the ma­jors this year among qual­i­fied play­ers.

Du­vall, who en­tered as a pinch-hit­ter in the eighth, then hit a liner into cen­ter field to put the Braves ahead to stay. It was his se­cond big hit of the se­ries af­ter he con­nected for a pinch-hit homer in the Braves’ 3-0 vic­tory Fri­day.

Game 4 is Mon­day at Busch Sta­dium. The Braves need one more win to ad­vance to the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries for the first time since 2001.

This is the first time the Braves have led a post­sea­son se­ries since they were up 2-1 on the Giants in the 2002 NLDS. They lost the fi­nal two games that year.

The Car­di­nals wasted a ter­rific per­for­mance by Wain­wright, who pitched 72⁄3 in­nings of four-hit ball in his first post­sea­son start since 2014. The 38-year-old Ge­or­gia na­tive and for­mer Braves draft pick struck out eight and walked two in his first post­sea­son start since 2014.

In the age of bullpens tak­ing over in Oc­to­ber, Wain­wright and Mike Soroka locked up in an old-fash­ioned pitch­ers’ duel. But the re­liev­ers ul­ti­mately de­cided the game.

Wain­wright de­parted af­ter he walked Ozzie Al­bies on his 120th pitch, load­ing the bases in the first play­off game in St. Louis in four years. He got a big hug on the mound from catcher Yadier Molina and the sell­out crowd saluted Wain­wright with a stand­ing ova­tion as he walked off the field.

Miller then came in and re­tired Fred­die Free­man on a fly­ball to cen­ter, end­ing the in­ning and pre­serv­ing a 1-0 lead.

But Martinez was hit hard for the se­cond time in the se­ries. He al­lowed three runs be­fore he closed out the Car­di­nals’ 7-6 vic­tory in Game 1.

Af­ter the Braves grabbed the lead Sun­day, Mark Me­lan­con worked the ninth for his se­cond save of the play­offs. Paul Gold­schmidt dou­bled with one out, but Mar­cell Ozuna struck out look­ing and Molina lined out to end the game.

CUR­TIS COMP­TON/TNS

Adam Du­val hits the game-win­ning two-run sin­gle dur­ing the ninth in­ning of the Braves’ 7-5 vic­tory over the Car­di­nals on Sun­day in St. Louis. The Braves lead the se­ries 2-1.

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