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ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 08: Manny Machado #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a three run homerun during the seventh inning of Game Four of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on October 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the National League Championship Series for the third straight season after defeating the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Monday at SunTrust Park in the 2018 MLB playoffs.

Rich Hill got the start for Los Angeles and allowed two runs in 4.1 innings of work.

With the Braves leading 2-1, David Freese put the Dodgers ahead with a two-run single in the top of the sixth. An inning later, Manny Machado tacked three more runs on the board with a homer off Braves reliever Chad Sobotka.

Manny Machado the Key to Ending Dodgers’ World Series Drought

Machado went 1-for-12 in the first three games of the NLDS.

The four-time All-Star helped set the tone for Los Angeles with an RBI double in the first inning. Then came the three-run homer to provide the Dodgers with much-needed breathing room.

As good as Justin Turner and Corey Seager played for the Dodgers over the past two years, they don’t match up with Machado when he’s performing at his peak. He brings a different dimension to Los Angeles’ offense, which is why the team gave up five prospects for a player who may only be a half-season rental.

According to FanGraphs, the Dodgers ranked 20th in weighted on-base average (.314) and 14th in weighted runs created plus (97) in 2016. They climbed to seventh (.330) and tied for fourth (104) in those two categories in 2017 and continued improving in 2018. Los Angeles is third in wOBA (.333) and tied for first in wRC+ (111).

Machado doesn’t deserve sole credit for the team’s offensive success since he only appeared in 66 games during the regular season. But he helped take what was already a good lineup—and one that had to replace Seager—and raised it to a new level.

If the Dodgers go on to win their first World Series since 1988, Machado will almost certainly be a big reason why.

What’s Next?

The Dodgers head to Miller Park for Game 1 of the NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. The Brewers earned a series sweep of the Colorado Rockies with a 6-0 win Sunday.

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