ATLANTA – Shortstop Dansby Swanson and Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler hit back-to-back home runs off reliever Cristian Javier in the seventh inning to give the Atlanta Braves a 3-2 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday in Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series.
The Braves took a 3-1 lead and on Sunday they will try to defeat their rivals at home to capture the fourth championship in franchise history and the second in 55 years in Atlanta. The Braves won their only title in 1995 since moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966.
Teams that gained such an advantage won the World Series 40 times, exceptions being six: Cleveland Indians in 2016, St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 and 1968, Baltimore Orioles in 1979, Milwaukee Braves in 1958 and Washington Senators in 1925.
Atlanta is a perfect 7-0 at home, something three other clubs did as well. Neither, however, has finished 8-0, which is what Atlanta would accomplish if it sealed the playoff on Sunday.
With the game 2-1 going his way, Astros manager Dusty Baker called up Javier, who had not allowed a run in four postseason appearances, to the mound. Javier struck out Adam Duvall, but Swanson, who hit 27 home runs on the season, a record for a Braves shortstop, scooped the ball out of right field to equalize the actions.
When the celebration of the majority of the 43,125 that filled Truist Park for the second day in a row was still underway, Soler edged out compatriot Yordan Alvarez in left field, pinch-hitting for pitcher Tyler Matzek.
Swanson and Soler are the first eighth- and ninth-graders in a lineup to hit back-to-back home runs in a World Series game. Since the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers (Game 5 against the New York Yankees) no team had hit home runs in a row.
Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager for the Dodgers in Game 5 of 1981 and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig for the Yankees in Game 4 of 1928 are the only other couples with home runs to tie and give their teams the advantage in appearances at the consecutive dish in the history of the fall classic.
Soler’s is the fourth home run by a pinch-hitter to give the lead from the seventh onwards and the first since Ed Sprague of the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 2 of the 1992 World Series against the Braves.
Puerto Rican outfielder Eddie Rosario doubled and single to reach 23 hits in the current postseason, a mark for a Puerto Rican. Rosario also stole an extra base from Venezuelan José Altuve in the eighth inning. According to Statcast, Altuve’s hit would have been a game-tying home run in 26 stadiums except Truist Park, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Arlington’s Globe Life Field and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.
The Astros loaded the bases with one out off starter Dylan Lee in the first inning, but they could only score one run and it was off a weak ground ball from Carlos Correa to third base, which pushed Altuve, off reliever Kyle Wright. Strikeouts from Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker were key.
In the second inning, pitcher Zack Greinke and catcher Martin Maldonado, the last two in the lineup, hit back-to-back hits with two outs, but were stranded on the bases by Altuve and Michael Brantley. In the fourth inning, Altuve hit a solo home run, his 23rd in the postseason, the second-most after Manny Ramirez’s 29th.
But Houston, the team that leads the current postseason in runs and hits, remained in a tremendous slump with runners in scoring position. Since Game 2, Houston is 1-for-17 in that situation.
While Greinke pitched four zeros as a starter for Houston, Wright allowed one run in 4.1 innings as Atlanta’s first reliever. Matzek was the winner, Javier the loser and Will Smith pitched his 10th in 10 appearances and scored his sixth save of the postseason.