LOS ANGELES -- Everyone around Chris Taylor was seemingly being ushered to one media obligation or another after the Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 to take a 3-2 lead in the National League Championship Series and put themselves one win away from the World Series.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, third baseman Justin Turner and catcher Austin Barnes were going to the media conference room. Yasiel Puig, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger were being taken to a backdrop in the center of the clubhouse for a scrum with reporters. Meanwhile, Taylor sat in front of his locker alone.
Taylor didn't get much attention Wednesday, but he shifted the momentum of the game and perhaps the series with his at-bat to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. The Brewers were up only 1-0 at the time, but there have been moments in this series where that has seemed like an insurmountable deficit for the Dodgers. Los Angeles had scored only two runs in the previous 27 innings and had struck out 38 times during that stretch.
The Dodgers didn't necessarily need a home run to get them out of their rut -- they just needed to get someone on base and maybe, just maybe, they could find a way to advance him home.
Milwaukee relief pitcher Brandon Woodruff had come into the game for Wade Miley, who faced one batter in the first inning before heading to the dugout, and was dominating. It looked as if it would continue when he got two quick strikes on Taylor.
"I was leading off the inning and I had two strikes on me and I was just trying to ground out an at-bat, just find a way to get on," Taylor said. "The ball kind of got in on me and luckily I found a hole."
Taylor connected on a 97 mph four-seam fastball for an infield single and was able to take second on a throwing error by Milwaukee shortstop Orlando Arcia.
"The ball hit my shin and I was able to get to second," said Taylor, who raced to first and then ran to second following the error. Taylor, however, wasn't done.
"I knew the way Woodruff was throwing I wanted to get something going, maybe get on third with no outs and give us a good opportunity," Taylor said. "I was going on contact (when Enrique Hernandez was batting). I wanted to be aggressive."
His aggressiveness in getting to third base paid off after Hernandez struck out when Barnes was able to single to center and bring Taylor home to tie the score.
"That goes kind of under the table a little bit," Barnes said. "It was huge to get to third base, less than two outs, give us a shot to do some things, and him going to second base on the errant throw was big. It's no big surprise to us -- he's a gamer, he's a grinder, and it was huge."
It was only one run to tie the score, but the momentum in the Dodgers dugout and throughout Dodger Stadium suddenly shifted.
"It was huge," shortstop Manny Machado said. "He brought that energy that we needed. He definitely gave us that momentum that we needed. That's what he brings to this ball club and that's what we're going to need if we want to win."
Taylor's hustle in running to first, which helped cause the error, advancing to second and then stealing third was almost infectious, as a series of little things helped the Dodgers win a second consecutive playoff game without hitting a home run. The last time the Dodgers won back-to-back postseason games without a home run was the 1947 World Series.
"I think the most special part of that was him running on the first pitch," Turner said. "That's big time to get over there on the first pitch. Now you've got a guy on third with no outs. So having the confidence and trust in your ability to get out there and know that the guy's a little bit slow to the plate and we can take advantage of that, and to go on the first pitch was big time."
Barnes' single not only brought home Taylor, but it made a difficult decision an easy one for manager Dave Roberts. With Kershaw due up next, Puig was standing in the on-deck circle to possibly bat for him, and Alex Wood was warming up in the bullpen. Once the score was tied, however, Kershaw batted for himself and would end up pitching eight innings, giving up only three hits and one run.
"In that situation it's 1-0, so thankfully Barnes came up huge right there, got that big knock for us, because if the runner is on third, Puig is probably going to get that at-bat and my day is over," Kershaw said. "I understand the situation. Obviously, I understand we have to score. So it wasn't a huge lobby on my part, but very thankful that Barnes came up huge right there for us."
If the Dodgers are going to go to back-to-back World Series for the first time since 1977-78 and win it for the first time since 1988, they will need players like Taylor and Barnes to be unsung heroes on a team littered with stars.
"We talked a little bit about getting back to our approach of seeing pitches and making pitchers work," Taylor said. "We're up 3-2 now and we only have to take one of two in Milwaukee."