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Divine Wright

by The Associated Press | October 31, 2021 at 3:38 a.m.
Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler hits a home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA -- A guy who spent most of the season in the minors kept the Atlanta Braves in it. Then the offense finally came to life.

Just like that, Atlanta is one win from its first World Series title in 26 years.

Dansby Swanson and pinch-hitter Jorge Soler connected for back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning Saturday night, propelling the Braves to a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros and a commanding 3-1 Series lead.

Gallery: 2021 World Series, Game 4

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Game 5 is tonight. The Braves can wrap up the championship on their home field, just as they did two stadiums ago when they beat the Cleveland Indians in 1995.

"It's just such a cool moment for this city," Swanson said. "But we've got one more. They've got a great ballclub over there and we can't take anything for granted."

That triumph at the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium remains the franchise's only World Series crown since moving to the Deep South in 1966.

This is the closest they've been to a second title since then.

A huge shoutout goes to a most unlikely hero.

Former No. 1 draft pick Kyle Wright, who has largely been a huge disappointment in repeated chances with the Braves, turned in 42/3 gritty innings out of the bullpen after surprise starter Dylan Lee retired only one hitter.

Wright was hardly overpowering, giving up five hits -- including a home run by Jose Altuve in the fourth that staked the Astros to a 2-0 lead -- and three walks. But he continually pitched out of trouble, giving the Braves a semblance of hope until the offense woke up.

"Just so poised," Swanson said. "This is really a big level, and man, he was awesome."

That finally occurred in the sixth when Eddie Rosario became the first Atlanta hitter to get past first base with a one-out double off Brooks Raley.

Rosario wound up scoring on another clutch postseason hit by Austin Riley, who lined a two-out single to left against Phil Maton.

The Braves left the bases loaded, but they weren't done. Just like that, they stunningly engineered the first lead change of the entire Series.

Facing Cristian Javier, Swanson went the opposite way for a home run that tied the game at 2, the ball hit so hard that it ricocheted off the tabled section in the right-field stands and rolled all the way back to the infield.

The celebration had barely simmered down when Soler stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter. On a 2-1 pitch from Javier, he got hold of a hanging slider and drove it into the Astros' bullpen in left, Yordan Alvarez hanging helplessly over the fence as the ball sailed over his head.

Luke Jackson worked a scoreless eighth, getting a great catch from Rosario slamming into the left-field wall that Soler homered over, and Will Smith worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save in six chances this postseason.

The Astros could only kick themselves for squandering countless chances, going hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position and leaving 11 on base overall.

"They've been playing us tough. They've been playing us real tough," manager Dusty Baker said. "We've had our backs to the wall before. Our guys know what to do."

Houston got just what it wanted from 38-year-old starter Zack Greinke, who threw four scoreless innings.

Greinke had last pitched in the World Series in 2019, when he was an 18-game winner acquired by the Astros in a trade-deadline deal.

Two years later, Greinke is no longer one of baseball's most dominant pitchers. But he gave the Astros just what they needed in the bullpen era -- four solid innings to leave with a 2-0 lead.

The Braves' pitching was in a bit of disarray after Game 1 starter Charlie Morton was lost for the rest of the Series with a broken leg.

Atlanta decided to go with a parade of relievers, starting with a guy who was released by Miami before the season and spent most of the year in Triple-A.

Lee wasn't even told he would be starting until he got to the ballpark Saturday afternoon, in hopes that he wouldn't have too much time to get nervous.

But he looked overwhelmed by the moment, retiring only one hitter before he was lifted with the bases loaded, having walked two and thrown just five of 15 pitches for strikes.

It was the shortest Series start since 2003, when David Wells lasted only one inning for the Yankees in Game 5 before leaving with back spasms.

Wright escaped the jam with only one run scoring on a groundout and made only one major mistake before his night was done.

Altuve went deep with one out in the fourth, launching a 434-foot drive over the center-field wall. It was his 23rd homer in 77 postseason games, which pushed him to second place all alone on the career list behind Manny Ramirez with 29.

Altuve had been tied with longtime New York Yankees star Bernie Williams.

Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler hits a home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler hits a home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez can't get a glove on a home run by Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez can't get a glove on a home run by Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson celebrates his home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson celebrates his home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson celebrates his home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson celebrates his home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson celebrates his home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson celebrates his home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler celebrates a home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta.(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler celebrates a home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta.(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler celebrates a home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler celebrates a home run during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright throws during the second inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright throws during the second inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright throws during the second inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright throws during the second inning in Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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