Bellinger delivers winner as Dodgers reach NLCS


SAN FRANCISCO — The Los Angeles Dodgers are heading back to the National League Championship Series, and they owe a lot of it to Cody Bellinger, an old friend with a new attitude.

Bellinger, who is crafting the type of postseason that might go a long way toward expunging a miserable, injury-filled regular season, drove a slider from San Francisco Giants reliever Camilo Doval into center field for an RBI single that scored the winning run in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in a do-or-die Game 5 of the NL Division Series on Thursday night at Oracle Park.

As Justin Turner, who was hit by a pitch with one out, crossed home plate, Bellinger stood at first and directed a primal scream toward the Dodgers’ dugout. His RBI single, coming on the fourth of four sliders offered by the hard-throwing Doval, was the second massive hit of the series for the 2019 NL MVP. His two-run double in Game 2 was pivotal in the Dodgers’ 9-2 win, and his at-bats as the series progressed bore little resemblance to the guy who hit .165 with a .542 OPS during the regular season.

After a regular season that saw the Giants win 107 games and the Dodgers 106, this game — with the winner moving on and the loser going home — felt inevitable. The hype was considerable, and the game did its best to measure up. It was a tense, constricted affair, with each pitch carrying the potential to change the game, and it ended with Max Scherzer, the sure-fire Hall of Famer and the Dodgers’ Game 3 starter, charging in from the bullpen to get the final three outs to close it out. He recorded the final out on a strikeout of Wilmer Flores, who was ruled to have gone around on a check swing by first-base umpire Gabe Morales.

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