LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers brought out a blaring mariachi band. They cranked the sound on the Dodger Stadium loudspeakers to ear-piercing levels. The fans screamed, shouted and shrieked.
They prayed for another Cody Bellinger miracle.
By the end of the evening Wednesday, they lost.
The Dodgers’ season is over.
Oh, sure, technically they still have to lose one more game to be officially eliminated.
The Dodgers meekly succumbed Wednesday in their 9-2 defeat to the Atlanta Braves in front of a stunned sellout crowd of 53,025 at Dodger Stadium, and trail 3 games to 1 in this National League Championship Series.
There will be no World Series repeat.
No talk of a dynasty.
Just the end of a 111-win season with a long winter to dissect what went wrong.
The Braves can clinch its first World Series berth since 1999 Thursday night (8:08 ET, TBS) with ace Max Fried on the mound with the Dodgers going with a bullpen game after using 28 pitchers this series.
It really doesn’t matter when the champagne is sprayed, this Series is over.
Atlanta, which won at Dodger Stadium for the first time since June 9, 2018, after losing 21 of their last 25 games at Chavez Ravine, simply is too good, too powerful, and far too overlooked.
Every single Braves starting pitcher wound up on the injured list except for veteran starter Charlie Morton, forcing them to resort to a bullpen game Wednesday.
They used six different pitchers, and they still man-handled the Dodgers’ offense, with Atlanta left fielder Eddie Rosario putting on a one-man show.
Rosario went four-for-five with two homers and four RBI, out-producing the entire Dodgers’ offense.
They now are just one victory away from the World Series where they will play either the Houston Astros or the Boston Red Sox, vying for their title since 1995.
“This year has been a testament,’’ said Braves center fielder Adam Duvall, who homered in the second inning, “to how we have handled adversity and how we’ve turned the page. And just kept grinding. Kept working. That’s one of our mottos is just show up and work, show up and get better, show up, put your best foot forward, show up and compete.
“That’s why where we’re at.’’
Atlanta’s resiliency was revealed for all of the baseball world to admire, with the Dodgers simply out-classed in every facet of the game.
Maybe the Dodgers simply ran out of steam, with their exhilarating five-game NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants sapping their energy.
Maybe they out-smarted themselves, using relievers as starters, starters as relievers, with the decisions backfiring in the biggest moments.
Julio Urias, who went 20-3 with a 2.96 ERA as the first 20-game winner in five years during the regular season, but was used as a starter, long reliever and late-inning reliever during the postseason, simply wasn’t the same overpowering pitcher.
He gave up three homers to the first 11 batters he faced, the first time in five years he gave up three homers in a game, and was battered around for eight hits and five runs in his five-inning stint. It is the longest outing by a Dodger starter in the series.
Maybe it was a case of the Dodgers’ offense simply collapsing, held without a hit until Justin Turner’s single in the fifth inning. Turner, the heart and soul of the Dodgers, left the game two innings later with a strained hamstring that will surely sideline him the rest of the postseason.
Or maybe they choked, with their offense going 6-for-28 with runners in scoring position this series, stranding 36 baserunners. Their two Turners (Justin and Trea) have batted .156 this postseason with one homer and two RBI, failing to produce a single hit with a runner in scoring position.
Then again, the cold-hearted reality is that they are on the brink of elimination because Atlanta is a better team.
“We’ve been feeling pretty good about ourselves for awhile now,’’ Freeman says.
And, oh, so close, to feeling euphoric.
Atlanta will soon receive their official World Series invitation, and considering their perseverance, their confidence, and their abundance of talent, there may not be a team in the land to stop them.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NLCS Game 4: Braves push Dodgers to the brink with four homers in win