The Dodgers find themselves tied with the Braves in the NLDS thanks to a 4-3 loss in Game 2 in a contest marked by a series of deuces on Friday night at Turner Field in Atlanta.
The Dodgers had the first deuce go their way in the first inning, when Hanley Ramirez double home Mark Ellis for a quick 1-0 lead. But the Braves answered right back with a two-out RBI double in the second inning by Andrelton Simmons.
Deuces hurt the Dodgers in the form of twin killings in second, third and seventh innings, the last of which a crushing grounder back to the pitcher by the speedy Carl Crawford with the tying run at third.
But that 2-1 Dodger deficit turned much worse in the bottom of the seventh, when the Braves doubled their score. With runners on second and third base and two outs, down one run, manager Don Mattingly had this scenario:
Chris Withrow to face Jose Constanza, a journeyman 29-year old who hit .276/.332/.314 in Triple-A this season.
But Mattingly chose to go with southpaw Paco Rodriguez, who had been very effective for nearly the entire season before a September hiccup. Fredi Gonzalez countered with pinch-hitter Reed Johnson, a former Dodger who has hit .311/.366/.456 against left-handed pitchers in his career but just .291/.328/.345 this season.
Strangely, Mattingly had Johnson intentionally walked to face Jason Heyward, who has hit .232/.312/.377 in his career against lefties but improved to .264/.347/.455 in 2013.
No matter how many numbers we look at, this move didn't pass the eye test.
Mattingly intentionally walked Reed Johnson to get to Jason Heyward.
Say that out loud, and it just doesn't sound right.
Sure enough, Heyward singled up the middle against Rodriguez for a 4-1 Braves lead.
Ramirez brought the Dodgers back with a two-run home run in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to 4-3. His third extra-base hit of the night tied a Dodgers postseason record, done seven other times.
But it wasn't enough. David Carpenter struck out Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig, then Craig Kimbrel was asked to record the final four outs.
The Dodgers got a pair of walks against the great Braves closer but pinch runner Dee Gordon was erroneously called out on a stolen base attempt at second base (h/t to Chad Moriyama):
But Kimbrel did eventually get those four outs, the final one a strikeout of Carl Crawford.
The series is tied at 1-1.
The Dodgers return home looking to Hyun-Jin Ryu in Game 3 on Sunday night at 5:07 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. Julio Teheran starts for Atlanta.
Home runs: Hanley Ramirez (1)
WP - Mike Minor (1-0): 6⅓ IP, 8 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
LP - Zack Greinke (0-1): 6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts
Sv - Craig Kimbrel (1): 1⅓ IP, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts