Atlanta Flirts With a No-Hitter and Takes Series Lead
ATLANTA — By the time the third inning ended on Friday night, after seven batters and 33 pitches and one meager run, the game seemed to be a …
ATLANTA — By the time the third inning ended on Friday night, after seven batters and 33 pitches and one meager run, the game seemed to be a montage of missed chances for Atlanta.
It was also, it turned out, enough: With a pitching staff that carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and with a late home run to add to its margin, Atlanta skirted past the Houston Astros, 2-0, in Game 3 of the World Series.
The win gave the Braves a lead of two games to one in the best-of-seven showdown, and it was the first World Series victory for Atlanta at home since 1996. Indeed, at a glittering, chilled and damp Truist Park, which began the day with a touching tribute to Hank Aaron, Atlanta seemed to recall its past of pitching master classes and, somehow, to summon another.
Ian Anderson, the Atlanta starter, threw five innings and allowed no hits. Then came A.J. Minter, whose inning of work similarly kept Houston’s bats silenced. Luke Jackson needed 11 pitches to retire the Astros in order in the seventh. And although Tyler Matzek allowed an eighth-inning single to Aledmys Díaz, who was in the game as a pinch-hitter, to end Atlanta’s quest for the first combined no-hitter in World Series history, he ultimately extinguished Houston’s hopes of evening the score.
Will Smith, the Atlanta closer, surrendered a single to start the ninth but then left the next three Astros stymied.
Atlanta’s offensive outburst, if you can call it that, began when Eddie Rosario, a recurring star of the team’s postseason run, turned a six-pitch at-bat into a walk. Freddie Freeman followed with a single into left-center.
Luis Garcia’s strikeout of Ozzie Albies left Atlanta with runners on first and second with just one out as Austin Riley sauntered to the plate, provoking the cheers that have followed him here throughout the playoffs: “M.V.P.! M.V.P.! M.V.P.!”
Riley swung at a cutter and missed. Garcia decided to place the same bet.
It failed. Riley swung at the cutter and struck it with just enough zip down the third-base line, just beyond the diving reach of Alex Bregman. Rosario dashed home as Freeman came to a stop at third and Riley headed toward second.
An eruption, the same kind that had put Game 1 away early, seemed imminent, maybe even probable, particularly when Jorge Soler walked to load the bases with a lone out.
But Adam Duvall popped out to first, and Travis d’Arnaud was unable to stop his bat on a 2-2 pitch, striking out on a checked swing.
Houston lurked in the fourth, after Anderson walked Yordan Alvarez and hit Carlos Correa with a four-seam fastball that raced in at 94 miles an hour.
The Astros never had two men aboard at once again, though Jose Siri, running for Díaz in the eighth, reached third on a stolen base and a throwing error that left the ball bouncing into center-field. Matzek, though, promptly forced a fly ball off the bat of Michael Brantley to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the eighth, Houston’s Kendall Graveman picked up two quick outs before d’Arnaud, perhaps looking for a measure of atonement after cutting Atlanta’s third-inning would-be rally short, stepped into the batter’s box.
Graveman fired a sinker as his first offering to d’Arnaud, who hit it 437 feet into the stands in center.
And the strong showing by Garcia, who had exited with two outs in the fourth inning and allowed one run on three hits, was further squandered.