1. Jason Heyward’s bases loaded two-run single
Situation: Left-hander Paco Rodriguez intentionally walks Reed Johnson with first base open to bring up left-hander Heyward with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh and the Braves up 2-1.
Result: Heyward singled up the middle to drive in two runs and widen the Braves’ lead to 4-1.
Comment: Rodriguez had a .131 opponents’ batting average against left-handers, and he wanted to face the left-handed Heyward. But Heyward stayed patient working the count to 2-1 before bouncing a single up the middle.
2. Luis Avilan’s double play on Carl Crawford
Situation: Braves up 2-1, but Dodgers threatening with runners at the corners with two outs for Crawford in the seventh inning.
Result: Avilan coaxes a grounder back to the mound and fires to Andrelton Simmons to complete the inning-ending double play.
Comment: It’s as fine a double play as a pitcher will ever turn, not to mention under the pressure of a one-run game, with the Braves down 1-0 in a division series, with the speedy Crawford at the plate.
3. Hanley Ramirez two-run homer
Situation: Braves up 4-1 with nobody out in eighth and a runner at first for the Dodgers’ hottest hitter.
Result: Ramirez hit a two-run homer to left field off David Carpenter to bring Dodgers within 4-3.
Comment: Carpenter walked the leadoff man in the eighth, a no-no, then threw back-to-back sliders to Ramirez who swung and missed at the first and swung and homered at the second. Ramirez went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.
Pitching: Minor gave up only one run in 6 2/3 innings in his postseason debut and left the game leading 2-1. He struck out Juan Uribe on a 3-2 curveball to strand runners at the corners in the sixth. Minor gave up a first-inning run, just as he had in his final four starts of the regular season, but nothing further. He needed 40 pitches to get through the first two innings but needed only 11, nine and 10 over each of the next three, respectively.
Hitting: Chris Johnson, who ranked fifth in the National League with a .390 (23-for-59) average with RISP and two outs during the regular season, singled to give the Braves a 2-1 lead, their first in the series, on a two-out, two-strike pitch from Zack Greinke in the fourth. The Braves drove in all four of their runs on two-out hits, by Simmons, Johnson and Heyward. After striking out 15 times in Game 1, including 12 times against Clayton Kershaw, the Braves struck out only three times in six innings against Greinke.
Defense: Gerald Laird threw out Dee Gordon trying to steal second for the second out in the ninth inning on a key play. The Braves turned three double plays in the game, including the standout play by Avilan. Simmons and Elliot Johnson turned double plays behind Minor in the second and third innings to help minimize his pitch count after a 22-pitch first inning.
Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel pitched a four-out save, hitting as high as 101 mph on the radar gun to collect his first out in the eighth. Luis Ayala put Avilan in a tough spot when he missed first base by about eight inches on a Michael Young grounder. Ayala might have had memories of Tim Hudson breaking his ankle on a similar play July 24 in New York.
In the dugout: Fredi Gonzalez stuck with his same lineup for Game 2, including Evan Gattis in left field, and it paid off with four runs from the offense and no miscues on defense by Gattis. Gonzalez went to closer Kimbrel in the eighth inning for his second four-out save of the season.