October 7, 2013

Braves on the brink of elimination in NLDS

By Beth Harris
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The big-name bats for the Los Angeles Dodgers did more than enough to overcome some tentative rookie pitching.

Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer, Juan Uribe added a two-run shot and Los Angeles routed the Atlanta Braves 13-6 on Sunday night for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five NL division series.

Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig each had three hits and scored three times on a big night at the plate for the Dodgers, who matched a franchise record for runs in a postseason game. Brooklyn beat the New York Yankees 13-8 in Game 2 of the 1956 World Series.

"It was a total team effort," Crawford said. "Guys were swinging the bat well. That's what it's going to take: 25 guys to do the job and come together and play well."

Los Angeles can advance to the NL championship series with a victory at home in Game 4 on Monday night. Ricky Nolasco pitches for manager Don Mattingly's Dodgers against veteran Freddy Garcia.

Crawford made the play of the game when he tumbled head over heels and onto his head to catch an eighth-inning foul ball at the low retaining wall in left field. The speedy leadoff man also scored three times, including once in the eighth when the Dodgers made it 13-4.

Chris Capuano won in relief of ineffective rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu in a game that took 4 hours, 1 minute. The 13 runs allowed by the Braves equaled the most in club history for a postseason game.

"I don't think the emotions or the crowd or anything had anything to do with it. I think we just had some mistakes," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Los Angeles rallied in the third to regain the lead for good after Atlanta tied it in the top of the inning. After that, the Braves didn't manage much besides Jason Heyward's two-run homer in the ninth.

By then, it was way too late.

Atlanta starter Julio Teheran and Ryu both made inauspicious postseason debuts in the first matchup of rookie pitchers in the playoffs since 2007. Neither stayed around long.

In addition to being shaky on the mound, Ryu made two major mistakes in the field before giving way to Capuano, who spent most of the season in the rotation before moving to the bullpen.

With the Dodgers owning a six-run lead in their first home playoff game since 2009, fans waved their blue souvenir towels with one hand and made chopping motions with the other in mocking Atlanta's trademark tomahawk chop.

Teheran took the loss, giving up six runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander struck out five, walked one and threw a wild pitch.

"I think he just left some balls out over the plate, you know, and made some mistakes," Gonzalez said. "And with this club, if you do that, you're going to look down at a gas tank with a lighted match."

Ryu allowed four runs and six hits in three innings, becoming the first South Korean-born pitcher to start a postseason game in the major leagues.

Despite his rookie status, the left-hander brought a wealth of experience from his native country in becoming the first player to go from the Korean Baseball Organization to the majors. Besides his seven seasons in the KBO, he had pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium as a reliever.

Atlanta got to him with two runs in the first during another of Ryu's typically slow starts. Capuano came on to strike out three and walk three in three hitless innings.

Braves reliever Alex Wood gave up four runs — none earned — and three hits in 2 1-3 innings.

Los Angeles extended its lead to 10-4 with four runs in the fourth. Ramirez had an RBI triple for his sixth extra-base hit in three postseason games, tying the club record set by Steve Garvey in four games of the 1978 NL championship series.

"He's in a real good groove right now. He's in a zone. We're just trying to get on base for him and he's been driving us in," Crawford said. "He's pretty locked right now."

Puig added an RBI single and Uribe followed with a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Wood.

The Dodgers regained the lead 6-4 in the third on RBI singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Skip Schumaker. Ryu was lifted for a pinch-hitter later in the inning.

Atlanta tied it 4-all in the third, helped by Ryu's major miscues. The left-hander loaded the bases on consecutive singles to Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis with no outs. Brian McCann grounded into a fielder's choice to first base, and Ryu got there late. He missed the bag after taking the throw and desperately stuck his right foot back to tap the bag, but a sprinting McCann was already safe.

Ryu's second mistake followed on Chris Johnson's dribbler up the first base line that allowed Freeman to score on the fielder's choice groundout. Ryu took the ball and threw to the plate with no chance to get Freeman.

Mattingly reacted in the dugout, saying, "No," while removing his cap and scratching his head.

The Dodgers scored four runs in the second to take a 4-2 lead, highlighted by Crawford's three-run homer with two outs. Ryu helped himself with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right field — Upton had to stretch out to keep the ball from going over his head.

Ryu often started slowly in the regular season, when he gave up 17 first-inning runs in 30 starts. The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the first on two-out RBI singles by Gattis and Johnson.