Emotional Braves hold off Dodgers to even series
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. Andrelton Simmons hollered after a neat tag in the ninth.
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 flashed some nifty plays in the field, holding off the 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 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 tried to steal second, but catcher Gerald Laird unleashed a strong throw that 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.
Minor made it through the sixth by fanning Uribe on a 3-2 pitch with runners at first and third. Skip Schumaker started the seventh with a chopper over the mound. Minor leaped for it, but it ticked off the edge of his glove and Simmons had no chance to get the runner after making a barehanded pickup at shortstop.
A.J. Ellis got down a sacrifice bunt, and that was the end of the night for Minor. He walked toward the dugout to a rousing ovation, having worked around eight hits and a walk in 61/3 innings.