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Braves squeak by Dodgers to tie playoff series

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSAs umpire Mike Muchlinski, left, watches, Los Angeles Dodgers' Dee Gordon, bottom right, tries to steal second base as Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) makes the tag in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves won 4-3. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    As umpire Mike Muchlinski, left, watches, Los Angeles Dodgers' Dee Gordon, bottom right, tries to steal second base as Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) makes the tag in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves won 4-3. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

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. 

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 pulled off some nifty plays in the field, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 tonight to even the NL division series at one game apiece.

In a postseason already marked by defensive miscues all over the place, including some 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 attempted to steal, but catcher Gerald Laird unleashed a strong throw that Andrelton 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.

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