NLDS, Game 2: Rick Ankiel Splashdown Homer In 11th Gives Braves Dramatic Win

After trailing for much of the game, the Braves rallied against Brian Wilson, escaped certain death in the tenth, and went ahead on a Rick Ankiel home run in the 11th that proved to be the difference. Check out more at Talking Chop and McCovey Chronicles.

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Braves 5, Giants 4, 11 Innings: Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus Emerge As Heroes In Postseason Classic

On Friday night, the Braves battled back in Game 2 of the NLDS to beat the Giants, and they did so just about as dramatically as an away team can do so.

Down 4-0 in the second inning, and on the heels of being on the losing end of Tim Lincecum's masterpiece of a complete game shutout, the Braves rallied to tie the game in the 8th and ultimately send it to extra innings. They have Alex Gonzalez, the slumping shortstop who stepped up with a two-RBI double, to thank for that.

In the tenth inning, closer Billy Wagner, who has been a rock for the Braves all season, left with an apparent oblique injury, and in stepped Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth, as you may remember, infamously gave up a 6-1 lead in the series-deciding Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS -- the last postseason series the Braves have played.

Farnsworth found himself with the bases loaded, one out, and slugger Buster Posey at the plate. Posey grounded to third, and fill-in Troy Glaus -- who played all of two innings at third in the 2010 regular season -- scooped it up and made the daring decision not to get the sure out at home, but to fling the ball to second and try for the double play. It worked, and the Braves survived by the skin of their teeth.

In the 11th inning, Rick Ankiel, whose story is one of the most intriguing of the last decade, hammered a Ramon Ramirez pitch into the Pacific Ocean. Ankiel is now the second hitter to hit a ball into McCovey Cove in the postseason.

Farnsworth returned to pitch the bottom of the 11th and managed to overcome a one-out Juan Uribe single to retire the side. The Braves won, 5-4 in 11 innings, and what looked hours ago to be a lost series for the Braves is now a 1-1 tie that moves to Atlanta. The young 2010 postseason has seen another great game of baseball.

Check out the reaction at our Braves blog, Talking Chop, and our Giants blog, McCovey Chronicles.


Giants Vs. Braves, NLDS Game 2: Rick Ankiel Launches Homer Into The Cove As Braves Take Lead In 11th

First, Kyle Farnsworth escaped a difficult jam in the bottom of the tenth when he got Buster Posey to hit into a bases loaded double play. Then, the Braves only built on their momentum. Facing Ramon Ramirez with one out in the 11th, Rick Ankiel worked a 2-2 count and launched a fastball over the plate deep beyond the right field fence and into McCovey Cove for a go-ahead home run.

Ankiel joins Barry Bonds as the only players ever to reach the cove in the playoffs.

The Atlanta dugout erupted, and as Ankiel began his trot he pointed to his teammates. The next two batters would get out, but after facing death just minutes earlier, the Braves are now three outs away from going home with the series evened up.


Giants Vs. Braves, NLDS Game Two: Troy Glaus Makes Gutsy Decision, Saves Game For The Moment

Troy Glaus is not known for his defensive prowess, especially at third base, and especially in 2010 -- in fact, he's only played two innings at third all season. In the tenth inning, though, he made a gutsy decision, and it paid off in the form of an inning-ending double play.

Reliever Kyle Farnsworth, after assuming pitching duties from the injured Billy Wagner, found himself with the bases loaded and facing Rookie of the Year candidate Buster Posey. Posey grounded to third. Rather than get the sure out at home, Glaus elected to fling it to second. The Braves converted the double play with close calls at second and first, and the Braves lived to play another inning.

Whew. I think we may be bearing witness to a classic.


Giants Vs. Braves, NLDS Game 2: Billy Wagner Leaves Game With Apparent Oblique Injury

In the tenth inning on Friday night, the Braves have serious cause to worry -- not just for Game 2, but for the remainder of the playoffs.

Closer Billy Wagner, who has been tremendously effective for the Braves in 2010, left the game after throwing a pitch in the tenth. He winced and appeared to grab at his oblique muscle. At the moment, we don't know the exact nature of the injury, or whether he will miss any more games.

It is worth noting that Wagner, who has had an outstanding career, has resolved to retire after the 2010 season. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of him.

In the meantime, Kyle Farnsworth has entered the game. Farnsworth, if you remember, gave up five critical runs in a relief appearance in Game 5 of the 2005 NLDS -- the last series the Braves were in. Stay tuned.


Giants Vs. Braves, NLDS Game 2: We're Headed To Extra Innings, People

On Friday night, the Giants and Braves are headed to extra innings in an especially pivotal Game 2 -- if the Braves win, the series is knotted with the series moving to Atlanta. If the Giants win, the Braves are in a huge hole.

Extra innings didn't seem likely in the third inning, with the Giants leading 4-0 early and the Braves demonstrating the same ineffectiveness at the plate that they showed in Game 1. The thing about baseball, as with most things, is that sometimes things happen that we do not expect to happen! Magical! Stay tuned as we hunker down for a bullpen slugfest.


Giants Vs. Braves, NLDS Game 2: Braves Break Through Against Brian Wilson In 8th, Tie Game At 4

In the eighth inning on Friday night, the Braves' offense mounted a threat serious enough to force a premature entrance from Giants closer Brian Wilson. Wilson couldn't kill their rally, and the Braves have found a way to tie the game at 4 apiece.

For the second time of the game, Derrek Lee led off an inning with a single. Brian McCann followed up with a single of his own to push Lee to third, marking the first time in the series that a Braves runner has stood on third base.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was then compelled to yank Sergio Romo in favor of his closer, Brian Wilson -- a bit of a risky move, considering he was asking a closer to pitch two innings. Melky Cabrera welcomed him to the game with an infield dribbler. He was called safe when the throw drew Aubrey Huff off first base, and Lee scampered in for the score.

And then, Alex Gonzalez -- who recently has been woefully ineffective at the plate -- smacked a bases-clearing double, and suddenly the Braves had tied the game.

With the Braves finding success against the Giants' bullpen tonight, and with Wilson pitching his second game, the remainder of this game promises to be especially interesting.


Giants Vs. Braves, NLDS Game 2: Bobby Cox Ejected, Perhaps For The Last Time

On Friday night, Braves manager Bobby Cox was ejected, and it may well be the very last of a record number of ejections.

In the second inning, Alex Gonzalez hustled to first on a ground ball, and it appeared in replays that first baseman Aubrey Huff was drawn off the bag.. Umpire Paul Emmel, though, called him out. First Gonzalez protested, then first base coach Glenn Hubbard, before Cox himself emerged from the dugout.

After arguing with Emmel, Cox appealed to home plate umpire Paul Nauert. Shortly thereafter, he was ejected, and the AT&T Park crowd sent him off with cheers.

This was Cox's 158th career ejection, which only extends the all-time record. It's also his third career postseason ejection. How many current managers have three career postseason games? It's a testament to Cox's longevity, success, and general crankiness.

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