Dodgers outlast Braves in extras

The Braves couldn’t beat the Dodgers without their top bullpen trio available on Friday, nor with them on Saturday. This time there was no lead to protect.

The Braves and Dodgers battled out a 1-1 game until the 10th inning when the Dodgers broke through. Dangerous Dee Gordon doubled off September call-up Anthony Varvaro to lead off the 10th and scored on a Juan Rivera’s sacrifice fly for a 2-1 win.

That was just how the Dodgers needed it to go, having kept the game tied through the Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel gauntlet. Gordon, their every day leadoff hitter, had come into the game as a pinch runner but got to lead off the 10th.

The Braves lost for only the second time in 22 games since June 1 in which “O’Ventbrel” pitched. They fell to 0-2 in this series with their fourth loss in the last six games, while the Dodgers rolled to their 11th win in 12 games and fifth in six games against the Braves this season.

The Braves broke up a stretch of seven consecutive games they’d won with rookie Mike Minor on the mound. He allowed only one run in six innings, walked two and struck out seven despite a 10-day layoff.

“I thought (Mike) Minor pitched terrific, our bullpen,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And they matched us with zeros all the way to the end. We didn’t get the hit or the bloop when we needed to. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

The Braves had their chances, going back to the fourth inning when they got back-to-back walks to lead off the inning. They struck out five times in six at-bats with runners on base in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

“We had a few chances here and there, but still, whenever you’re in those of situations (with runners) in scoring position and you’re facing guys with this kind of stuff, they get even nastier than they already are,” said Dan Uggla, who drove in the Braves’ only run with a second-inning homer. “But we have to bear down that much more and try to make adjustments the best we can. We didn’t have that timely hitting tonight.”

The Braves had a chance to win it after Jose Constanza reached on an infield hit, despite being down to the last strike in the ninth. Alex Gonzalez followed with a single to center, but Brooks Conrad struck out on three straight pitches.

Rookies Minor and Nathan Eovaldi battled to a 1-1 draw through six innings, and some nasty arms out of the bullpen for both sides keep it right there. Venters stranded the go-ahead run at third base with back-to-back strikeouts in the eighth. The Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen got back-to-back strikeouts in both the seventh and eighth innings to strand two runners, throwing upper-90s fastballs with movement himself.

“That was disgusting what we were facing tonight, but that’s the way the game is now,” Uggla said. “Our pitching staff did a great job keeping them to one run and just so happened they got that run in the 10th and it ended up being enough.”

The Braves were itching for a win Saturday night with Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw to follow in the series finale, then the Phillies and Cardinals on the road.

But the Braves managed only one run in six innings against Eovaldi, despite drawing five walks. They put the leadoff man on against him in the third, fourth and fifth innings and came up empty. They hit into three inning-ending double plays against him.

Eovaldi could reach back and throw 97 mph, which he did to strike out Jason Heyward to finish off the fourth inning rally.

Eovaldi and Minor each gave up solo home runs for their only runs. Minor struggled with his command after the layoff, which made a quality outing that much more impressive.

“Tonight I didn’t really have anything early on, or pretty much the whole game,” Minor said. “I just had to fight through it. (Brian McCann) came out there one of those times and was like ‘Hey, me and you both know you don’t have your greatest stuff, but we’ve got to get through this.’”

Minor is 4-0 with a 3.06 ERA in six starts since turning the corner against the Blue Jays. His perseverance Friday night might have impressed McCann the most.

“Sometimes he gets down on himself when he doesn’t make a perfect pitch,” McCann said. “He’s got to realize that he’s got to throw 100 more pitches so he’s got to let the bad ones go and focus on the next one. And he did that tonight. That’s where he’s grown up the most.”

After Minor gave up a home run to back-up catcher A.J. Ellis in the second inning, Uggla used some muscle memory to even it against Eovaldi. After homering to left in his final at-bat Friday, he came back to the same area Saturday and raised his season total to 32 homers, second in the National League.