Inquirer Daily News

Greinke aims to give Dodgers commanding NLDS lead in Atlanta

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Braves try to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole on Friday when they play Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field.

It won't be easy, though, as the Braves face righty Zack Greinke, who was 15-4 this season and pitched to a 1.58 ERA in 12 starts since July 30. Greinke also won 12 of his final 14 decisions and was 7-0 with a 1.95 ERA over his last 10 starts on the road.

"You feel good when Zack is pitching," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "If we can put some runs up for him and make some plays, we're going to be in a position to at least be in a close game that you've got a chance to win."

Greinke, who went 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in three postseason starts with Milwaukee in 2011, tossed seven scoreless innings to beat the Braves in his only appearance against them this season, but is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts at Turner Field.

"They've got a bunch of power, and you kind of have to locate your pitches," said Greinke about the Braves. "So I think those are the two main things. If you don't locate them, they could do some damage."

Clayton Kershaw pitched Los Angeles to an early lead in this best-of-five set on Thursday, as he put forth a Cy Young-worthy effort with a 12-strikeout performance, and behind an early offensive outburst, the Dodgers were able to steal home field advantage with a 6-1 victory in Game 1.

The Dodgers plated five runs over their first four turns at the plate to provide more than enough support for Kershaw (1-0), who cut down the Atlanta hitters one after another in scattering just a run on three hits over a dominant seven-inning stint.

The NL-West Champions totaled 11 hits, with nine of them coming off Kris Medlen (0-1). The Braves starter lasted just four-plus innings and was charged with five runs -- including a two-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the third inning that all but silenced the home crowd for the remainder of the evening.

Yasiel Puig had two hits, as did Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis, who each scored a run and finished with an RBI. Skip Schumaker contributed a sacrifice fly in the first postseason win for Mattingly.

"It feels good, obviously to put a win on the board really in a series, try to get that first game kind of under your belt as far as a team, not really worrying about myself so much," said Mattingly. "But feel good about putting a win on the board."

The Braves, coming off their first NL East title since their run of 14 straight ended in 2005, struck out 15 times and managed just five hits in Game 1.

Getting the call for Atlanta in Game 2 will be lefty Mike Minor, who was 0-4 in five September starts and allowed 18 earned runs over his final 39 innings.

Overall, though, he was 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA.

"I hate putting labels on guys, especially young guys," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think when you've got six, seven years in the big leagues and been successful, that's when I think we should put labels or say this guy is an ace or a No. 1, or you've won some hardware to back it up. But I think Mike Minor is a really, really good pitcher."

In five starts versus the Dodgers Minor is 1-1 with a 2.32 ERA.

Atlanta won five of its seven regular season matchups with the Dodgers this season. However, these teams haven't met in the postseason since the Braves swept the NLDS back in 1996.

10/04 10:28:46 ET