Brave new world: Atlanta into World Series

Eddie Rosario launches the three-run homer that sent the Atlanta Braves to the World Series.
Eddie Rosario launches the three-run homer that sent the Atlanta Braves to the World Series.

Eddie Rosario has capped a remarkable NL Championship Series with a three-run homer, sending the Atlanta Braves to the World Series for the first time since 1999 with a 4-2 victory over the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves won the best-of-seven series four games to two, exorcising the demons of last year's NLCS - when they squandered 2-0 and 3-1 leads against the Dodgers - and advancing to face AL champions the Houston Astros.

Game 1 is Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Braves will be going for their first Series title since 1995, when they beat Cleveland with a team that included Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Jon Smoltz and Chipper Jones - a no-nonsense group that became better known for numerous postseason flops during a momentous run of 14 straight division titles.

This flashy team is led by a far more unlikely hero.

Rosario, acquired in a flush of deals just before the July 30 trade deadline that rebuilt the Braves' depleted outfield, set an Atlanta franchise record and became only the fifth player in baseball history to record 14 hits in a postseason series.

He was an easy choice as MVP of the series.

"Since I was a little kid, I've dreamed of this moment," said 30-year-old Puerto Rican Rosario through an interpreter. "Look at me now."

Will Smith worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save of the postseason after a brilliant relief stint by winner Tyler Matzek, who escaped a huge jam in the seventh by striking out the side.

Spurred on by chants of "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie" from the raucous sellout crowd of more than 43,000, Rosario finished 14 of 25 (.560) against the Dodgers, with three homers and nine RBIs.

"We just couldn't figure him out," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said.

Rosario's final hit was certainly the biggest of his career.

With the score tied at 1 in the bottom of the fourth, Rosario came up after pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza extended the inning with a two-out double into the right-field corner. Slow-running catcher Travis d'Arnaud was held at third.

Rosario got into an extended duel with Walker Buehler. He swung and missed the first two pitches. Then he fouled one off. Then he took a ball. Then he fouled off two more pitches.

Finally, he got one he liked from the Dodgers' 16-game winner - a cutter that Rosario turned into a 105mph rocket down the right-field line, higher and higher, straight as an arrow until it landed well back into the seats below the Chop House restaurant.

Rosario knew it was gone, dancing down the line after delivering a 361-foot killer blow to a highly-paid team that won 106 games during the regular season - 18 more than the NL East-winning Braves - but came up short in its bid to become baseball's first repeat champion since the 2000 New York Yankees won their third straight title.

The Braves will be looking to bury their city's reputation for playoff misery.

From four World Series losses in the 1990s to the NFL Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in the 2017 Super Bowl, Atlanta again finds itself on cusp of an extremely rare feat -a championship.

Those '95 Braves remain the city's lone team in the four major sports - baseball, football, basketball and hockey - to capture a title.

Australian Associated Press