Braves hold off Dodgers to even NLDS at a game apiece

first_imgATLANTA >> For all of Hanley Ramirez’s heroics amid a sea of missed opportunities by the Dodgers, Game 2 of the National League Division Series might best be remembered for a walk.With left-handed hitter Jason Heyward on deck in the seventh inning, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called for rookie left-hander Paco Rodriguez to walk right-handed hitter Reed Johnson intentionally to load the bases.The matchup might have supported the move, but there was plenty of room for second guessing. Johnson, 36, is a career utility player who was batting ninth. The 6-foot-5 Heyward was leading off.Heyward took advantage of his good fortune, driving a single up the middle to drive in two runs — the eventual game-winning hit in a 4-3 Braves win before an announced crowd of 48,966 at Turner Field. When Mattingly called for Rodriguez to replace Withrow, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez then replaced Constanza with Johnson.The Dodgers wasted leadoff runners in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings. Three of those rallies were killed by double-play groundouts off the bats of Skip Schumaker, Mark Ellis and Carl Crawford.In all, the Dodgers left seven runners on base, failing to produce the clutch hits that defined a Game 1 victory against Kris Medlen.Minor, pitched out of the stretch in all but one of his seven innings, but was unfazed. He allowed a first-inning run then let the Dodgers’ bats bail him out. Minor induced three fly-ball outs — two by opposing pitcher Zack Greinke — and struck out five in 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander got 11 outs as a result of ground balls.But the Dodgers still had their chances against a Braves bullpen that allowed fewer runs than any unit during the regular season.Luis Ayala relieved Minor with one out in the seventh inning and allowed an infield single that to Michael Young. With Young at first base and Schumaker at third, Luis Avilan relieved Ayala and got Crawford to ground sharply back to the mound, touching off a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.Facing right-hander David Carpenter in the eighth inning with the Dodgers trailing 4-1, Mark Ellis walked. The next batter, Ramirez, turned on a slider and wristed it over the left field fence, just inside the foul pole for a two-run home run.The rally ended there. Craig Kimbrel recorded the final out of the eighth inning and three more in the ninth for a rare four-out save. Kimbrel, the National League leader with 50 saves in the regular season, recorded 49 saves of his saves on three outs.The ninth inning was not without controversy. With one out, A.J. Ellis walked and was replaced with pinch-runner Dee Gordon. Gordon attempted to steal second base on Kimbrel and Braves catcher Gerald Laird but was called out by second-base umpire Bill Miller. Multiple television replays showed that Gordon was safe.The Dodgers got to Minor early.With one out in the first inning, Ellis fell behind 0-2 but worked a seven-pitch walk. The next batter, Hanley Ramirez, also fell behind 0-2 but extended the at-bat to seven pitches before lining a double into the right-field corner. Ellis scored the game’s first run standing up.The Braves got the run back in the second inning off Dodgers starter Zack Greinke. Evan Gattis singled and advanced to second base on a groundout by Brian McCann, then scored on a line-drive double to right field by Andrelton Simmons.In the fourth inning, Freddie Freeman doubled against Greinke to lead off the inning, then scored on an RBI single by Chris Johnson to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 in Los Angeles on Sunday.Ramirez finished 3 for 4 with two doubles and a home run, but the Dodgers failed to capitalize on their 10 hits against starter Mike Minor and four relievers.The Dodgers used four pitchers in the eighth inning — Chris Withrow, Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell — and it was Withrow who was charged with the two fateful runs in his playoff debut.Withrow walked Brian McCann to lead off the inning and surrendered a single to Chris Johnson, putting runners on first and second base with none out. With two outs and the pitcher’s spot due up, the left-handed hitting Jose Constanza was initially announced as the pinch-hittercenter_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more