Minor, Braves Knot Series With Dodgers
Atlanta — Mike Minor slammed his fist into his glove after getting out of a jam with a strikeout. Luis Avilan pumped his arm wildly after escaping another mess with a huge double play.
The Braves were fired up for this one, with good reason.
Atlanta got the win it had to have before heading to Los Angeles.
Minor pitched six strong innings, Jason Heyward had a two-run single and the Braves pulled off some nifty plays in the field, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Friday night to even the NL division series at one game apiece.
In a postseason already marked by defensive miscues all over the place, including some shaky plays by the Braves in Game 1, Atlanta’s defense came through by turning three double plays — none more crucial than the one Avilan started in the seventh to escape the inning with a 2-1 lead intact.
Heyward came through in the bottom half with a two-run single.
Good thing for the Braves, too.
Hanley Ramirez drove in all three runs for the Dodgers, including an impressive show of the strength in the eighth for a two-run homer. He cleared the wall down the left-field line with a one-handed swing off David Carpenter.
Not taking any chances, the Braves went to closer Craig Kimbrel for a rare four-out save. He ended the eighth by retiring Juan Uribe on a groundout, then pitched around two walks in the ninth — again getting a hand from the defense.
Pinch-runner Dee Gordon attempted to steal, but catcher Gerald Laird unleashed a strong throw that Andrelton Simmons scooped on the short hop while making the tag in one motion, all while blocking Gordon’s left hand from bag with his knee.
Laird pumped his fist twice and let out a scream, Gordon was wide-eyed in disbelief at the call. Kimbrel finished it off by striking out Carl Crawford with a 98 mph fastball.
After an off-day, the best-of-five series resumes with two games at Dodger Stadium on Sunday and Monday. A deciding Game 5, if necessary, would be back in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
St. Louis — Gerrit Cole gave up two hits in six dominant innings and had an RBI in his postseason debut, Pedro Alvarez homered for the second straight day and Pittsburgh beat St. Louis to even their NL division series at a game apiece.
After taking advantage of several Cardinals mistakes, the Pirates head home for Game 3 on Sunday. Wild-card game winner Francisco Liriano faces Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly.
Roles were reversed from the Cardinals’ 9-1 win in the opener, with the Pirates showing poise in their first postseason appearance since 1992 and St. Louis looking tentative in the field.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, who hasn’t lasted long enough to qualify for the victory in any of his three career postseason starts, yielded five runs and seven hits in 41∕3 innings.
He found trouble early. Alvarez doubled in the second on a fly ball that was misjudged by center fielder Jon Jay and he scored on Cole’s single to put the Pirates ahead — eighth-place hitter Jordy Mercer was walked intentionally ahead of Cole. Alvarez then hit a 418-foot two-run homer in the third.
Third baseman David Freese dropped Marlon Byrd’s pop fly for an error in gusting wind in the seventh inning, leading to a run.
Cole faced the Cardinals for the first time and left most of them shaking their heads, striking out five and walking one. After allowing Carlos Beltran’s double with one out in the first, he retired 11 straight before Yadier Molina led off the fifth with his third career postseason homer.
Relying on a fastball that peaked at 99 mph on the stadium radar gun and one that TBS had at 100, Cole had hitters helpless at times even without shadows that benefited pitchers early in Game 1. He retired the side in order on seven pitches in the third, finishing by striking out Lynn and leadoff man Matt Carpenter. The 22-year-old rookie didn’t allow a ball out of the infield in the fourth.