Minor, Braves pull even 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. 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.
Luis Ayala took over against pinch-hitter Michael Young and got what he needed, a grounder wide of first base that was scooped up by Freddie Freeman. He made the flip to Ayala covering first, but the veteran reliever missed the bag with his right foot to give Young a gift single, about the only thing that didn't go right for Atlanta's defense.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez went to his bullpen again, calling on the lefty Avilan to face Crawford. It couldn't have worked out any better for the Braves.
Crawford skipped one up the middle. Avilan went to a knee, made the backhanded stab and quickly popped up for the throw to second. Simmons took it from there, firing on to first to complete the double play.
Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
At St. Louis, hard-throwing rookie Gerritt Cole gave up two hits in six dominant innings and also had an RBI in his postseason debut, Pedro Alvarez homered for the second straight day and Pittsburgh defeated St. Louis to even their NL division series at one game apiece.
A day after St. Louis got a strong effort from its starter and took advantage of mistakes to romp 9-1 in the opener, the Pirates showed poise for their first playoff win since 1992 while the Cardinals looked tentative in the field.
The Pirates now head home for Game 3 Sunday in the best-of-five series. Wild-card game winner Francisco Liriano faces Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly.
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, the 22-year-old retired 11 straight before Yadier Molina led off the fifth with his third career postseason homer.
Alvarez doubled and scored on Cole's single in the second 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.
AL Division Series
Red Sox 12, Rays 2
At Boston, Jon Lester allowed three hits in 72/3 innings for Boston, giving up a pair of solo homers to Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist to spot the Rays a 2-0 lead through the top of the fourth before the Red Sox came storming back to take Game 1.
Boston's Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom half with a single up the middle, and then David Ortiz hit a high fly ball that center fielder Desmond Jennings and rookie right fielder Wil Myers converged on. Myers raised his left hand to call off Jennings but let it fall behind him, bouncing off the warning track a few feet in front of the fence and into the bullpen for a double.
With a derisive cheer of "Myers" echoing through the ballpark, Mike Napoli popped up to second base for the first out before Jonny Gomes hit a fly ball that scraped the left-field wall on the way down. Pedroia held to tag up, then scored easily with Ortiz coming in just a few steps behind him to make it 2-2.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out before Stephen Drew hit a slow hopper to first that James Loney fielded and flicked to Moore. But the pitcher's foot came down a split second after Drew's and, with Moore facing the wrong way, Gomes never slowed down as he rounded third and scored without a throw.
Will Middlebrooks followed with a line drive to left that took a bad hop off the AL East standings and got past on the rebound. That allowed Drew to score and make it 4-2, while Middlebrooks went into second with a double. Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a passed ball on strike three — which would have been the third out of the inning — and Middlebrooks moved to third, where he scored on Shane Victorino's single to make it 5-2.
None of the misplays was scored an error.
The Red Sox added three more runs to chase Moore in the fifth inning when they sent nine batters to the plate — the first time in franchise history they have batted around in consecutive innings in a postseason game. In all, Moore was charged with eight runs — seven earned — on eight hits, two walks a hit batter and a wild pitch, striking out four in 41/3 innings.