By Steve Dilbeck
6:43 PM PDT, October 4, 2013
One day after almost everything went right for the Dodgers, precious little did.
They received a strong outing from Zack Greinke and Hanley Ramirez had three extra-base hits, but otherwise little fell into place Friday in their 4-3 loss in Game 2 of their National League division series with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
The Atlanta victory evened the best-of-five series at a game apiece. Game 3 is scheduled Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers could never come up with the big hit Friday, bouncing into three key double plays. And then there were the seven runners left on base and managerial decisions by Don Mattingly that largely seemed to backfire.
Greinke pitched well, but left trailing 2-1 after six innings.
The Braves wanted to turn this series into a battle of bullpens, and despite giving up a two-run homer to Ramirez in the eighth, their bullpen was the difference.
Here's an inning-by-inning recap of Game 2:
Braves 4, Dodgers 3 (middle of ninth):
Craig Kimbrel, yeah him, did what he almost always does with a lead. He closed the Dodgers down, if awkwardly, to collect the save. That's one for the postseason, and 50 for the regular season.
A.J. Ellis did work a one-out walk to open the inning, but pinch-runner Dee Gordon was thrown out attempting to steal. Replays, however, indicated Gordon might have been safe.
Andre Ethier then drew another walk, but Kimbrel struck out Carl Crawford to end it.
Braves 4, Dodgers 3 (end of eighth):
Brian Wilson pitched in his second consecutive game, retiring the Braves in order.
Now it's onto the ninth and facing Kimbrel, who made good on 50 of 54 save opportunities this season.
Braves 4, Dodgers 3 (middle of eighth):
The Dodgers at least made it interesting.
Right-hander David Carpenter gave up a leadoff walk to Mark Ellis and then saw Hanley Ramirez almost perfectly place a two-run homer just over the left-field wall and just inside the left-field foul pole.
Ramirez also has two doubles.
But Carpeneter then struck out Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig, and baseball's best closer, Craig Kimbrel came in early to get Juan Uribe on a bouncer.
And the Dodgers are down to their final three outs.
Braves 4, Dodgers 1 (end of seventh):
That looks like game.
Manager Don Mattingly went to his young relievers in the seventh, and it backfired. Chris Withrow left after giving up a walk and a single. Paco Rodriguez took over and then Mattingly curiously had him intentionally walk ex-Dodger Reed Johnson to load the bases and bring up Jason Heyward.
There should have been a giant timeout so everyone could say, "what?" That's walk Reed Johnson to get to Jason Heyward to load the bases.
Surprise, Heyward lined a two-run single up the middle and the Braves suddenly had a comfortable lead.
Also, there is this less-than-encouraging note for Dodgers fans: The Braves went 72-6 when the led after the seventh during the regular season.
Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (middle of seventh):
The Dodgers are killing themselves by hitting into double plays, just killing themselves.
Both starting pitchers are now out, after a wild top of the inning. Skip Schumaker led off with an infield single, and showing that his carpool buddy Nick Punto is in his head, slid head first.
Manager Don Mattingly had A.J. Ellis sacrifice, the bunt advancing Schumaker to second. Michael Young then hit for Zack Greinke and Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez went to reliever Luis Ayala.
Young hit a bouncer to first baseman Freddie Freeman, who flipped to Ayala. One problem. Ayala's foot came down inches in front of the bag and Young was safe with what was ruled a hit as Schumaker took third.
Gonzalez then called on left-hander Luis Avilan, who incuded Carl Crawford to hit a come-backer to start an inning-ending double play.
It was the third double play the Dodgers have hit into. Crawford into into only four double plays all season.
Greinke allowed two runs on four hits in six innings; he did not walk a batter and struck out three. Minor went 6 1/3 innings, giving up the one run on eight hits; he walked one and struck out five.
Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (end of sixth):
Another 1-2-3 inning for Zack Greinke.
He's due up third in the next inning but has thrown only 83 pitches through six innings.
Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (middle of sixth):
Dodgers look like a team running out of chances.
They had one in the sixth when Hanley Ramirez doubled, and with two outs, Yasiel Puig used his exceptional speed to beat out an infield hit.
But Mike Minor struck out Juan Uribe on full count to end the threat. Minor, who had no strikeouts through the first three innings, has struck two each in the last two innings.
Seems it was just a late-arriving crowd. Turner Field looks close to full now, with all kinds of red, limp, foam rubber tomahawks.
Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (end of fifth):
Sorry, back after some technical difficulties ...
Zack Greinke, who wobbled some the previous inning, made quick work of the Braves in the fifth. It was three up, three down again.
Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (middle of fifth):
You can almost sense the momentum shift now that the Braves have taken the lead. Mike Minor seems to be throwing with added confidence.
Minor retired the side in order, two on strikeouts. He'd struck out only one previous to the fifth.
Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (end of fourth):
The Braves took their first lead of the series after Freddie Freeman led off with a double to Yasiel Puig in right. Showing they know who they're playing with, Zack Greink backed up Puig's throw wild at second.
With two outs, Chris Johnson singled and the Braves were up by a run. And those war chants were back.
Dodgers 1, Braves 1 (middle of fourth):
This is becoming the tight, pitching dominated contest most figured on. The Dodgers managed one hit, but otherwise went quietly in the fourth.
Highlight for the locals was when Yasiel Puig struck out looking and the fans chanted, "over-rated." Something about the way Puig carries himself seems to annoy fans all over the country.
Dodgers 1, Braves 1 (end of third):
Zack Greinke hardly appeared shaken after giving up a run the previous inning.
He retired the side in order so quickly, you would have though he'd thrown one pitch.
Dodgers 1, Braves 1 (middle of third):
Mike Minor isn't fooling a lot of people (four hits allowed, no strikeouts), but twice he's avoided more trouble by twice getting double plays, this time from Mark Ellis.
On a full count, the Dodgers had Carl Crawford -- who had singled -- going on the pitch and the Braves were still able to turn two.
The game, by the way, is now back on TBS.
Dodgers 1, Braves 1 (end of second):
Sorry, there will be not be a no-hitter thrown by Zack Greinke. A shutout, either.
Greinke gave up his first hit to Evan Gattis to lead off the inning, and then with two outs a run-scoring double to Andrelton Simmons.
The Simmons drive just exceeded the reach of a shallow-playing Yasiel Puig in right, landing in front of the warning track.
Dodgers 1, Braves 0 (middle of second):
All quiet on the scoring front. The Dodgers did manage a couple of hits against left-hander Mike Minor, but Skip Schumaker (corrected) bounced into a double play.
Note: Minor three quality starts in four of his last five outings, and the Braves lost them all.
And, yes, the red foam tomahawks are back. Contain your enthusiasm.
Dodgers 1, Braves 0 (end of first):
Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw play this unspoken game of "can you top this," which should bode well for the Dodgers if Greinke has ambitions to better what Kershaw managed in Game 1. He'll have to at least throw a shutout.
Greinke got off to the right start, retiring the Braves in order in the first.
Dodgers 1, Braves 0 (middle of first)
The Dodgers again jump out to the early lead, Hanley Ramirez doubling home Mark Ellis.
There's another disappointing crowd at Turner Field. Quipped The Times' Dylan Hernandez: Why is Turner Field so empty? Did Frank McCourt buy the Braves?
By the way if you're watching and reading (much safer than driving and texting), because the Red Sox-Rays game has gone long, the start of the Dodgers-Braves Game 2 is being televised on TNT.
The Dodgers went 12-14 in September. They seldom resembled the team that tore up the National League during that 42-8 summer run.
But the truth is, it had been awhile since they had played in a game that really meant something. Thursday’s first division playoff game offered a fresh start, an opportunity to refocus and play as they had before, to flip the switch.
Which is no easy thing to do, and often can’t be done at all.
“Until we got to yesterday's game and saw if we could get that edge back that we had during that amazing run we had in the middle of the season, we didn't know,” catcher A.J. Ellis said.
“That's something that we had to see if it was going to happen or not. Flipping the switch in baseball is really hard to do.”
The Dodgers attacked almost from the start Thursday, jumping out to a quick lead. Having Clayton Kershaw on the mound didn’t hurt, but as a team the Dodgers played alert, energized baseball in their 6-1 victory.
“We probably couldn't have scripted it too much better than we scripted it yesterday,” said Manager Don Mattingly.
The Dodgers were able to steal the home-field advantage away from the Braves and Friday have a huge opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series tonight behind right-hander Zack Greinke.
Mattingly, however, said today’s game is its own animal, separate from the opener.
“Today's momentum is going to be based on this game,” he said. “Right now we have a little momentum going into the game. We've won a game on the road. We've got our guys going. If we can put pressure on them today, hopefully we can kind of keep the momentum in our dugout.”
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