Mike Minor out-dueled Zach Greinke on Friday night, helping the Atlanta Braves tie the NLDS with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of a raucous crowd at Turner Field.
After giving up a first-inning RBI double to Hanley Ramirez, it appeared as though Minor was intent on repeating Kris Medlen's performance from Thursday night's 6-1 drubbing.
But following that rocky start, he began to deal, allowing eight hits, one walk and just that one run over 6.1 innings while striking out five to get the crucial win.
His opposition on the mound, Zach Greinke, gave up less hits (four) and zero walks through six innings, but the Braves were able to turn those four baserunners into two early runs to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Andrelton Simmons smacked a two-out double to score Evan Gattis in the second. Chris Johnson added a two-out hit of his own—an RBI single to score Freddie Freeman in the fourth.
Therein was the difference of the game: clutch hitting.
While the Braves made efficient use of their few runners on base, the Dodgers wasted their opportunities.
L.A. got leadoff hits to start the second, third, fourth and seventh innings but hit into double plays in three of those frames and weren't able to manufacture any runs.
The biggest rally-killer came in the seventh inning, as Atlanta still held a narrow 2-1 lead. With Skip Schumaker on third and Michael Young on first (both via infield singles), Carl Crawford came to the plate to face Luis Avilan, who had just come into the game for Luis Ayala.
Then this happened:
Atlanta added some more clutch hitting in the bottom half of the inning when Jason Heyward smoked a two-out, two-run single. That proved to be important insurance, as Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth to cut the lead back to one at 4-3.
Craig Kimbrel was there to save the day, however, as he came on and shut the door with a four-out save.
In the end, the Dodgers hit just 2-of-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base, while the Braves drove in all of their runs with two outs in a clutch performance to even up the series.
Zach Greinke, Dodgers: B+
Giving up four hits and zero walks in six innings is usually going to earn a pitcher a win, but the timeliness of those base knocks really hurt Greinke on Friday.
Still, you can't really fault him all that much, as his offense failed to provide much support when he was in the game.
Dodgers fans will take nights like this from their starters every single time.
Mike Minor, Braves: A-
Minor wasn't perfect. He allowed nine baserunners in 6.1 innings, which would come out to a fairly ugly 1.48 WHIP.
But in opposite fashion of Greinke, timeliness was on Minor's side. He scattered those hits, and when he needed to get double plays or strikeouts, he got them.
Minor's outing epitomized the Braves' team performance as a whole on Friday: clutch.
Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers: A
Most of the other Dodgers hitters are somewhere in the "D" range, but Ramirez was en fuego at the plate. He hit two doubles in his first three at-bats and then smacked a one-handed two-run homer in the eighth inning to bring L.A. within one run.
He now has four hits, three doubles and a home run in two playoff games. Not too shabby for a guy who has been recently battling a back injury.
Andrelton Simmons, Braves: A
On the diamond, he was involved in all three of Atlanta's double plays, including this one in the third inning where he intelligently charged the ball and was able to get Crawford at second base despite the speedster taking off on the play:
But with Simmons, defensive gems are commonplace.
More impressively for the best defensive shortstop in baseball, he was able to come through with a clutch two-out RBI double to get the Braves on the board early.
The series (tied at one game apiece) shifts to Los Angeles. Game 3 from Dodger Stadium is on Sunday at 8:07 p.m. ET. Julio Teheran will take the mound for the Braves, while Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the start for L.A.
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