ATLANTA — Bryce Elder's clutch pitching kept the Atlanta Braves in the game early. Strong situational at-bats in the last inning produced a much-needed win.
Ozzie Albies' sacrifice fly drove in Austin Riley in the bottom of the ninth as the Braves beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
"It was really good after the way the first two went," Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley said of losses in the first two games in a series matching the teams with the best records in the National League.
Riley doubled to left field off Phil Bickford (1-2) to lead off the Braves' half of the ninth. Riley moved to third on Travis d'Arnaud's grounder to first base. After an intentional walk to Eddie Rosario, Albies' fly to deep right field allowed Riley to score easily, setting off a celebration near first base.
"Great job by Ozzie, but Travis set us up with a very professional at-bat," Riley said.
Elder gave up seven hits and one walk but had six strikeouts while allowing only one run in six innings. Elder stranded two runners on base in each of the first three innings to continue his season-long success in pitching out of trouble.
Los Angeles hitters were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Entering the game, Elder's 3.24 ERA with runners on base was the lowest in the NL this season. His success against the Dodgers, who sit atop the NL West Division standings, impressed Braves manager Brian Snitker.
"It's probably the most experienced and talented lineup he's faced in his young career," Snitker said. "The first three innings, he faced no less than five guys. He didn't give in, either."
Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin's 14-inning streak of scoreless innings ended with Matt Olson's 456-foot home run that landed on the roof in right field with one out in the fourth for Atlanta's first hit. Olson leads the Braves with 14 homers this year.
Mookie Betts answered with a line-drive homer, his 11th overall this season, which tied the game at 1 to open the fifth. Marcell Ozuna's two-run shot to left in the fifth followed Gonsolin's walk to Albies.
Gonsolin allowed three runs on three hits, including two homers, in 5 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game against Nick Anderson in the eighth. Will Smith singled, moved to third on a double by J.D. Martinez and scored on Jason Heyward's groundout. Miguel Vargas added a ground-rule double to left field to drive in Martinez.
The Dodgers again left two runners on base in the ninth. Freddie Freeman walked before Will Smith hit a bloop single off Raisel Iglesias, leaving runners on first and third with two outs. Iglesias (1-1) escaped the jam on Max Muncy's popup caught by shortstop Orlando Arcia in shallow left field.
Despite the loss, the Dodgers could celebrate winning the first two games of the series against NL East-leading Atlanta behind rookie starters Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller.
"We've talked about the depth we have in our organization," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "To see it play out in real time is exciting."
Atlanta's Michael Harris II ended an 0-for-24 slump with a single off Victor González to lead off the bottom of the eighth before Ronald Acuña Jr. hit into a double play. Harris was hitting only .159 before the single.
"He had some better swings tonight," Snitker said of the 22-year-old Harris. "He's a young player. He doesn't have a lot to draw on experience-wise."
Harris hit .297 with 19 homers to win NL rookie of the year in 2022.
On the injury front, Braves right-hander Michael Soroka moved closer to earning his first return to Atlanta since 2020 when he allowed only two hits and one run in six innings for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday night. Soroka is attempting a comeback from two tears of his right Achilles' tendon.
Snitker was most impressed Soroka threw 96 pitches, proving he's ready to pitch deep into games.
"His stuff is getting better," Snitker said. "It's all headed in the right direction. ... I think when and if we need him, he'll be ready."
Braves left-hander Dylan Dodd is expected to be recalled from Gwinnett to start Thursday night, when Atlanta opens a four-game series against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. Dodd is 1-3 with a 6.67 ERA at Gwinnett and is 2-1 with a 6.46 ERA for Atlanta this year.
The Phillies plan to start right-hander Aaron Nola (4-3, 4.31).