ATLANTA -- When Jason Heyward lined a bases-loaded, two-out single up the middle in the seventh inning to put the Braves ahead 4-1, the Turner Field pressbox shook from clapping, foot-stomping fans who got what they came to see, though not without some late-innings consternation on Friday night.
Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer off David Carpenter in the eighth inning, but the Braves brought in closer Craig Kimbrel for a four-out save and a 4-3 win against the Dodgers Friday night, which evened their best-of-five division series at a game apiece before it shifts to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers put the potential tying run on base twice in the ninth on walks issued by Kimbrel. After A.J. Ellis walked with one out, catcher Gerald Laird threw out pinch-runner Dee Gordon trying to steal second base. And after pinch-hitter Andre Ethier walked with two out, Kimbrel struck out Carl Crawford to end the game.
Mike Minor won a pitcher's duel with Dodgers starter Zack Greinke, and the Braves got all their runs on two-out hits by Andrelton Simmons in the second inning, Chris Johnson in the fourth and Heyward in the seventh. Heyward stroked a single past left-hander Paco Rodriguez after Reed Johnson was walked intentionally with first base open.
Chris Johnson has become known for wearing emotions on his sleeve, and when he pumped his fist while running to first base on a two-out, go-ahead single in the fourth inning, the third baseman also conveyed the emotion of a crowd of 48,966 at Turner Field and many more Braves fans watching on TV.
And when Braves left-hander Luis Avilan fielded a comebacker with runners on the corners in the seventh inning, spun and threw to shortstop Simmons to start a splendid, inning-ending double play, Avilan's scream to the heavens and the crowd's thunderous ovation conveyed joy and something else.
There would be more stress before the night was through, but in the end the Braves rinsed out the bad taste of Thursday's series-opening dud by coming through with a performance impressive in every aspect.
After a travel and workout day Saturday, the teams will play Game 3 on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, and Game 4, if necessary, on Monday. If the series goes the distance, Game 5 would be Wednesday (8:37 p.m.) at Turner Field.
Minor limited the Dodgers to eight hits and one run in 6-1/3 innings, with one walk and five strikeouts. He gave up a run in the first inning and needed 40 pitches to get through the first two, then settled in and worked through the next 4-1/3 innings in 57 pitches before leaving with a runner on second and in the seventh.
He was replaced by Luis Ayala, who missed first base with his foot while covering on Michael Young's groundball to Freddie Freeman, which was ruled a hit.
Ayala gave way to Avilan, who fielded a grounder back to the mound by the next batter, Crawford. Avilan didn't hesitate in turning and firing to Simmons, and the gifted shortstop got rid of it quickly and threw to Freeman at first base for the double play to end the inning as the would-be tying run was crossing the plate.
Simmons had a fine all-around night for the Braves, tying the score at 1-1 with his two-out double in the second inning and managing to lay down a sacrifice bunt on an inside pitch with two on in the seventh. After Elliot Johnson struck out, Reed Johnson was walked to bring up the left-on-lefty matchup of Rodriguez vs. Heyward. J-Hey won.
Minor trailed 1-0 after facing the first three batters of the game, allowing a Mark Ellis walk and Ramirez's RBI double. It was a continuation of his issue in the regular season, when opponents hit .270 in the first inning and .225 after the first. The left-hander got ahead 0-2 in counts against both hitters and failed to put them away.
Minor worked around leadoff hits in the second, third and fourth innings, then struck out Juan Uribe swinging at a curveball with runners on the corners on an eight-pitch at-bat to end the sixth inning and protect a 2-1 lead.
Simmons' two-out double in the second tied the score, and the Braves took the lead on Johnson's two-out hit in the fourth against Greinke. The Dodgers right hander, who went 9-2 with a 1.57 ERA in his last 16 starts during the regular season, was charged with four hits and two runs in six innings Friday.
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