ATLANTA—The SunTrust Park crowd erupted in boos Friday evening when Atlanta starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz was lifted for a pinch hitter with two out and a runner on first after Foltynewicz had blanked the Cardinals on three hits for seven innings. That meant the bullpen was going to enter in the eighth and that bullpen had given up six runs in the final two innings in Game 1 of the National League Division series on Thursday.
But that pinch hitter, former Cincinnati outfielder Adam Duvall, ripped a 96 mph Jack Flaherty full-count fastball deep over the left-center-field wall to give the Braves a 3-0 cushion in Game 2. Duvall followed a one-out single by Brian McCann.
And that bullpen, in the forms of Max Fried, who was the Braves’ leading winner with 17 as a starter, and Mark Melancon, pounded on Thursday, preserved that 3-0 lead as the Braves drew even in the best-of-five series which will resume on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis. Game 4 will follow on Monday afternoon.
Melancon, who gave up four runs of his own and one for another pitcher on Thursday, also drew some boos when he entered. The former Pittsburgh All-Star allowed one-out singles to Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna in the ninth but fanned Yadier Molina on a high fastball and then Kolten Wong on a curveball in the dirt.
On Sunday, impressive Braves rookie Mike Soroka (13-4), who has given up only one earned run in 13 innings against the Cardinals this season, will face former Braves farmhand Adam Wainwright in Game 3.
Flaherty threw 117 pitches and gave up eight hits, his most since June 25 against Oakland.
Manager Mike Shildt, assessing Flaherty, said, "I thought Jack was really good. I thought he took a while to settle down. They scratched one in the first. And then you could see him hit his stride about the second, going into the third. And then he looked like Jack. Complete control.
"Not as much command, but the command was there more in the middle innings. Slider was good. Fastball was good. A lot of life to his fastball. Not quite as sharp with the command, but still really, really good. Gave us more than a chance to win that ball game."
The Cardinals struck out 11 times without walking. Harrison Bader whiffed three times in succession. And Shildt, asked about a potential lineup change which would bring in Matt Carpenter, said, "We try not to live in too big of a silo, but we do recognize these games are silos. And they have weight to them. We're always looking to field our best total team. There's a lot of factors in that. We've discussed that.
"Clearly today we went with a combination. Harrison's obviously capable offensively. Carp is in a really good spot as well offensively. It can't be ignored and it will be factored seriously in the lineup on Sunday."
'FOLTY' OUTDUELING FLAHERTY
Mike Foltynewicz, banished to the minor leagues for six weeks in mid-summer by the Atlanta Braves, matched Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty and then some Friday as the Braves tried to even the National League Division series at a game apiece.
Through six innings, Flaherty, who had an 0.91 earned run average after the All-Star break covering 15 starts, held the Braves to a first-inning run and five hits over the first six innings.
Foltynewicz, a Cardinal fan growing up in Minooka, Il., limited the Cardinals to no runs and two hits as Atlanta nursed a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning. He had won six of his last seven decisions after being recalled from Class AAA Gwinnett.
BRAVES STRIKE FIRST IN FIRST
Cardinals righthander Jack Flaherty sported an historic 0.91 earned run average over 15 starts in the second half of this season. The Atlanta Braves matched that in the first inning Friday in Game 2 of the National League Division series when Josh Donaldson raked a two-out single to left to score Ozzie Albies from second.
Albies had legged out a roller to short and had moved up on a Flaherty wild pitch. Flaherty fanned dangerous Freddie Freeman before Donaldson delivered the run on his first hit of the series.
It was the first time since Aug. 18 that Flaherty had allowed an earned run in the first inning.
An error by second baseman Albies gave the Cardinals a two-on, two-out chance in the second but Harrison Bader flailed at slider, striking out.
Foltynewicz struck out five in the first three innings as he maintained that 1-0 lead.
CARDS CATCH BRAVES STEALING
Flaherty had allowed three or fewer hits while pitching six or more innings on 14 occasions this season, best in the majors. When the Braves got leadoff singles by Nick Markakis and Matt Joyce in the fourth, that gave Atlanta five hits. But Flaherty pitched out of trouble.
He got Brian McCann on a pop to third baseman Tommy Edman and, after Flaherty fanned Dansby Swanson, catcher Yadier Molina and teammates throttled a Braves attempt to steal a run. When Joyce took off from first, Molina fired toward second where Wong cut off the throw and began running Joyce back to first. Markakis then broke from third but Wong fired there and Edman applied the tag as Markakis tried to dive back.
But Foltynewicz struck out two more hitters in the Cardinals’ fifth, giving him seven. It still was 1-0.
1. Dexter Fowler rf
2. Tommy Edman 3b
3. Paul Goldschmidt 1b
4. Marcell Ozuna lf
5. Yadier Molina c
6. Kolten Wong 2b
7. Paul DeJong ss
8. Harrison Bader cf
9. Jack Flaherty p
1. Ronald Acuna Jr. cf
2. Ozzie Albies 2b
3. Freddie Freeman 1b
4. Josh Donaldson 3b
5. Nick Markakis lf
6. Matt Joyce rf
7. Brian McCann c
8. Dansby Swanson ss
9. Mike Foltynewicz p