Memphis, Tenn. - Down to their final at-bat, the Memphis Redbirds scored three runs on five hits in the bottom of the ninth inning to come back and beat the Oklahoma City Dodgers, 5-4, and take Game 3 of the American Conference Finals at AutoZone Park Friday night.
The Dodgers carried a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning when they turned the ball over to closer Brian Schlitter (0-1). After a single and a groundout, the Redbirds had a runner at second base with one out.
Rangel Ravelo came up next and worked an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a RBI single. Alex Mejia followed with a single to left field to put two runners on.
Lane Thomas was the next hitter and sent a soft broken-bat flare to shallow center field to score pinch runner Edmundo Sosa and tie the game.
Max Schrock then delivered the fourth consecutive hit on a single to right field. Dodgers outfielder Travis Taijeron made an accurate throw to home plate, but Mejia's hand crossed the plate right before the tag by catcher Will Smith to score the winning run.
With the win, the Redbirds now own a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-five series and can advance to the PCL Championship with a win Saturday night. The Dodgers, who won four straight elimination games to end the regular season, will once again need to win to keep their season alive.
During the regular season, the Dodgers were 57-2 when leading after eight innings, while the Redbirds were 2-49 when trailing after eight innings.
Each of the first three games of the series have been decided by one or two runs, with both of Memphis' wins coming in the team's final at-bat.
The Redbirds were the ones who struck first Friday night, breaking a scoreless stalemate in the third inning. Tommy Edman drew a leadoff walk and was at second base when Mejia hit a sharp grounder past shortstop Angelo Mora into left field for a RBI single.
The Dodgers still trailed, 1-0, in the fifth inning and had been tamed by Memphis pitcher Chris Ellis. But Ellis lost his command and walked two of the first four batters in the inning. Ellis then fell behind Henry Ramos, 2-0, and on the next pitch, Ramos smacked a three-run homer out to right field to put the Dodgers in the lead at 3-1.
It was the first time since Aug. 6 Ellis allowed a run, snapping a string of 23.1 scoreless innings for the right-hander.
Memphis threatened in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with two outs. But Dodgers reliever Josh Sborz got Schrock to go down looking at a fastball on the outside corner to escape the jam and end the inning.
The Redbirds pulled within one in the sixth inning. With a runner at third and two out, Edman sent a dribbler about 30 feet up the third base line for an infield single, scoring Randy Arozarena from third base to cut OKC's lead to 3-2.
The Dodgers got some breathing room in the eighth inning when Taijeron hit a solo homer into the Memphis bullpen in left-center field to restore the lead to two runs.
Taijeron led the Dodgers with a 3-for-4 performance and tied Schrock with a game-high three hits.
Once again, the Redbirds outhit the Dodgers and had several more chances to score throughout the night. Memphis nearly doubled the Dodgers' hit total at 13-7 and had 10 more at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position while the Redbirds went 5-for-16. Memphis was 2-for-13 through the first eight innings before going 3-for-3 in the ninth.
Redbirds reliever Andrew Morales (1-0) picked up the win after retiring the side in order in the ninth inning.
The Dodgers and Redbirds meet in Game 4 of the series starting at 6:35 p.m. Saturday at AutoZone Park. Live radio coverage begins 15 minutes before first pitch on AM 1340 "The Game," 1340thegame.com, or through the free iHeartRadio mobile app.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.