NLDS Game 2: Braves beat Dodgers 4-3 to even up series

Mike Oz

The Atlanta Braves didn't want to head back to Los Angeles down 0-2 to the Dodgers in the NLDS, so the Braves did the things they do well in Friday's Game 2. They got a quality start from Mike Minor, a clutch hit from Jason Heyward and then turned it over to their bullpen.

There was a hiccup — an eight-inning Hanley Ramirez homer that put the Dodgers within one — but the Braves called on closer Craig Kimbrel to throw 100+ mph flames and they beat the Dodgers 4-3 to tie the series.

• Mike Minor turned in a great start for the Braves when they really needed him. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run on eight hits. More important than stats, he never let the Dodgers batters get into a groove. He didn't let them continue their hot-hitting ways from Thursday night's game.

In one particularly stellar moment for Minor, he bested Juan Uribe in a sixth-inning showdown with two outs and runners at first and third. The count worked to 3-2 with Uribe, who is prone to clutch moments, fouling off a few pitches. With Yasiel Puig taking off from first base on the pitch, something hit to the gap would have likely scored two runs and given the Dodgers the lead. Instead, Minor got Uribe to chase a curve ball and strike out.

• Jason Heyward hit a two-run, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Braves a 4-1 lead. It came off reliever Paco Rodriguez in a lefty-on-lefty matchup that the Dodgers wanted. Heyward smoked a pitch up the middle, scoring Chris Johnson and B.J. Upton. Heyward's single gave the Braves enough of a cushion for their league-best bullpen.

• Hanley Ramirez was the top Dodger with two doubles and that eight-inning home run that he hit one-handed. He drove in all three of the Dodgers runs.

• Everybody who pitched in the seventh inning for the Dodgers not named J.P. Howell. After the Dodgers pulled Zack Greinke for a pinch-hitter in the sixth, Don Mattingly went to his bullpen. He probably didn't think he would need four relievers in the seventh. Oh, but he did. The Dodgers gave up two runs on two hits and three walks. Chris Withrow, Paco Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario couldn't get the Braves out. Howell eventually came in with the bases-loaded and Freddie Freeman up. Freeman grounded out to second base to end the rough inning.

• Don Mattingly — because of everything written above.

In a tense seventh inning, the Braves got Carl Crawford to ground into a double play with the game's tying run on second base. Skip Schumaker singled to lead off the inning, then Michael Young singled as a pinch-hitter. Crawford could have made the game 2-2, but grounded one back to pitcher Luis Ayala. Ayala made the turn to second for the first out, then the Braves barely got Carl Crawford at first. A second more and Crawford would have been safe and the game would have been tied.

• The Dodgers used four relief pitchers in the seventh inning. Three of them walked the first batter they faced. One was intentional.

• Braves closer Craig Kimbrel got his second four-out save of 2013.

• That Dodgers seventh inning. Specifically wondering why the Dodgers intentionally walked Reed Johnson to bring Jason Heyward to the plate. They wanted a lefty-on-lefty matchup and Heyward made them pay with his two-run single. Johnson hit .244 in 2013.

• A stolen base attempt in the ninth inning by the Dodgers' Dee Gordon. He was called out after back-up catcher Gerald Laird's throw, but replays showed Gordon may have been safe.

One team will take a 2-1 advantage in Game 3, which happens Sunday across the country at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. First pitch is at 8:07 p.m. ET. The Braves and Dodgers each send a rookie pitcher to the mound. It's Julio Teherán (14-8, 3.20 ERA) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA). As you can see, their seasons were very similar.

The postseason is upon us. Spend it with The Stew.
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