(Reuters) - The Atlanta Braves scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Friday and square their National League Division Series at one game each.
After losing the first game of the best-of-five series at home, the Braves were under enormous pressure to get back on level terms before heading to California for Game Three.
And they came through, just, thanks to a two-run, two-out single by Jason Heyward with the bases loaded that gave the Braves a vital 4-1 cushion.
The Dodgers responded when Hanley Ramirez muscled a two-run home run off David Carpenter in the top of the eighth to make it a one-run game, but they could not add to their score.
”It was a big win,“ said Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzales. ”You don’t want to go to LA down two games.
“The guys stepped up and played tremendous defense, got some add-on runs and really pitched well.”
Craig Kimbrel closed out for the Braves, though the home fans had to endure some nervous moments.
Dodgers pinch runner Dee Gordon almost stole second base in the final inning but was judged out in a very close call for the second out, before Carl Crawford struck out to end the game.
“We thought he (Gordon) was safe,” said LA manager Don Mattingly. “Our replays, we feel like are fairly clear but I‘m sure other people see it another way.”
After losing by five runs in Game One, Friday started ominously for the Braves when the Dodgers got on the board in the first inning as Mark Ellis came home on a Ramirez drive to right field.
But Atlanta scored in the second inning to tie it up and took the lead in the fourth when Johnson singled on a ground ball to bring Freddie Freeman home.
Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor was credited with the win after throwing 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on eight hits, while Dodgers starter Zack Greinke went six innings for two runs and four hits.
Johnson with two hits was the only Atlanta batter with more than one hit, while Ramirez was the best of LA’s batters with three hits and three RBIs from four at-bats.
No other Dodger managed more than one hit.
Game Three will be played on Sunday.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford