Ian Anderson threw 76 pitches over five innings. That’s 15.2 per inning. Over nine innings, that’s 138.2 pitches. Counting the playoffs, Anderson had worked 41 games. He’d topped 100 pitches in two of them. His max was, and still is, 110 pitches.

For anyone griping that Anderson was denied a chance at history – there has been only one World Series no-hitter, that by Don Larsen in 1956 – the numbers above stand as the rebuttal. To allow a 23-year-old pitcher to hunt history at the expense of a team would have been managerial malpractice.

Maybe Brian Snitker could have let Anderson go another inning, but that inning would have come against the top of the Astros’ order, to whom Anderson issued two first-inning walks. But if you’ve determined your pitcher can’t go nine – and he couldn’t have – then everything else is splitting hairs. Summoning a fresh AJ Minter to work the sixth was a better move than allowing Anderson, who’d thrown 39 strikes against 35 balls, to nurse a no-no that was never going to be his alone.

Said Snitker: “He’d thrown a lot of pitches to top half of the lineup. In the fourth inning he had to work. He had really good fifth inning. I told them that was it. He said, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ I was going with my gut here. Our (bullpen) guys were rested. Their first three hitters had 12, nine pitches (of Anderson’s) that they saw. I don’t know. It could have backfired, I guess. I just thought that the game he had, he had done his job.”

Then: “We had all our guys gassed up today. He’s one mistake today from a really good outing going awry. I just felt like he got us to a really good point in the game.”

Then: “The pitch count was such that he wasn’t going nine innings … He probably had only one more inning in him after we took him out.”

Said Anderson, who appeared not at all miffed: “I knew he wasn’t going to budge. I can’t blame him for going with those guys.”

The final four innings played out as scripted. Minter worked the sixth, Luke Jackson the seventh, Tyler Matzek the eighth and Will Smith the ninth. The Astros finished with two hits, both singles.

Cue Herm Edwards, a coach in a different sport: “You play to win the game.” Snitker’s team won the game 2-0. His team leads the World Series 2-1. The possibility remains that the Braves can become champions here over the weekend.

The pregame festivities centered on Hank Aaron, who died at 86 on Jan. 22. Billye Aaron stood on the field and wept as she watched a video of her husband’s great and gracious career. Astros manager Dusty Baker, who was on deck the April night in 1974 when Aaron hit his 715th home run, left the dugout to hug the Aarons. Hank Aaron Jr. delivered the ceremonial first pitch to Freddie Freeman, called to serve as a catcher on this momentous occasion.

“I got to hug Billye,” said Snitker, whom Aaron, then the Braves’ farm director, hired as a minor-league manager. Here Snitker paused for 10 seconds before saying, in a choked voice, " ... and tell her how much I miss Hank.”

The first World Series game in Cobb County felt so overstuffed – The Battery Atlanta was packed by mid-afternoon, the threat of rain no barrier to attendance this night – that the game itself was almost anticlimactic. (Almost, I said.) The rain came and stayed, but the game began as close to on time as TV allows, and the teams played through a nightlong drizzle without untoward incident.

The Braves nosed ahead in the third inning. Against Astros pitcher Luis Garcia – he of the double-step windup – Eddie Rosario checked his swing in time to draw a leadoff walk. (In the first inning, he hadn’t checked in time.) Freeman singled to left-center. Ozzie Albies struck out on a change-up. Then Austin Riley drove a cutter down the left-field line, scoring Rosario.

The Braves loaded with one out. Adam Duvall popped to first. Travis d’Arnaud struck out. That would become a theme. The Braves left nine men on base. They were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. But, as they say in golf and a few other sports, sometimes it’s not how but how many. The Braves scored two more runs than the big-hitting Astros.

Houston’s first came in the eighth inning. We can make the case that it should have been caught. Batting against Matzek, Almedys Diaz led off with a bloop over the infield. The backtracking Dansby Swanson had no chance. The oncoming Rosario appeared to have a halfway decent chance, but he seemed to hesitate at the telling moment. He was surely considering risk/reward: If the ball gets past him, Diaz would have reached second base, which would have meant the Astros could have tied the score with a bunt and a sacrifice fly.

Afterward, Rosario also said he’d considered the risk/reward of slamming into Swanson. “I knew Dansby couldn’t hear me,” he said, via Braves interpreter Franco Garcia. “At the last minute I wanted to avoid any collision and I eased up.”

An eighth-inning homer by d’Arnaud gave the Braves padding they didn’t need. A ninth-inning single by Alex Bregman beat the Braves’ shift but availed the Astros not at all. Smith retired the next three hitters, touching off a fireworks display on this soggy and sentimental night. The Braves had gotten everything from Game 3 they wanted. They’ve retaken the lead in the World Series. They have two home games remaining. And two wins to go.