MLB roundup: Braves even NLDS against 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.
The Braves were fired up for this one, and 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 Dodgers, 4-3, on Friday night to even the NL Division Series at one game apiece.
In a playoffs 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 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.
American League Division Series
Red Sox 12, Rays 2 — In Boston, Jon Lester allowed three hits in 7 2⁄3 innings, and Boston took advantage of poor Tampa Bay defense in a five-run fourth to beat the Rays in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.
Lester gave up a pair of solo homers into the Monster Seats, but he got the lead back when the Rays fell apart in the fourth. One ball fell between two outfielders, another took a bad hop off the Green Monster standings, one batter reached safely on a dropped third strike and another when pitcher Matt Moore was slow to cover first.
By the time it was over, the Red Sox were ahead, 5-2, and on their way to the early lead in the series. Game 2 is on Saturday at Fenway Park.