Braves have a bit extra
Ankiel blast in 11 ties series at 1-1
SAN FRANCISCO — Rick Ankiel splashed a tiebreaking home run into McCovey Cove in the 11th inning for his first postseason clout, and the comeback Atlanta Braves rallied from a late four-run deficit to beat the San Francisco Giants, 5-4, last night.
The Braves earned 46 come-from-behind victories this season and did it again when it counted in October — with manager Bobby Cox watching from the clubhouse after his third career postseason ejection way back in the second inning.
Atlanta heads home to Turner Field for Game 3 tomorrow with the best-of-five NL Division Series tied at a game apiece. It’s the only first-round playoff series that is even after two games.
Kyle Farnsworth pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings for the victory, relieving in the 10th after closer Billy Wagner got hurt fielding a sacrifice bunt. Farnsworth escaped a bases-loaded jam when Buster Posey grounded into an inning-ending double play that was started by Troy Glaus at third base.
Alex Gonzalez hit a tying, two-run double in the eighth against Giants closer Brian Wilson, who led the majors with 48 saves this season.
Ankiel’s drive on a 2-and-2 pitch from Ramon Ramirez was just the second splash homer in the postseason at 11-year-old AT&T Park. Home run king Barry Bonds hit the other one Oct. 10, 2002, in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series against St. Louis.
After being held to one unearned run in the first 16 innings of the series, the Braves erased a 4-1 deficit in the eighth inning.
Derrek Lee started the rally with a leadoff single against Sergio Romo and went to third on Brian McCann’s single. The Giants then called on Wilson, who has never had a six-out save in his career, according to STATS LLC. Wilson did lead the majors this season with 10 saves of longer than an inning but he couldn’t come through in his first career postseason appearance.
He got Melky Cabrera to hit a slow roller toward third that scored Atlanta’s second run. Pablo Sandoval’s throw to first pulled Aubrey Huff off the bag for an error, but Cabrera looked as though he would have beaten the throw anyway.
After a sacrifice bunt by Brooks Conrad, Gonzalez tied it with his double to left-center. Gonzalez had just two hits in 41 at-bats over his past 12 games before coming through against Wilson.
The Giants’ bullpen had thrown 24 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings since late in the regular season before the eighth-inning meltdown.
Cox wasn’t around for the rally. It was the third career postseason ejection to go along with a record 158 in the regular season for the 69-year-old Cox, who is retiring after the season.
The latest dispute came after Gonzalez was called out by umpire Paul Emmel after Giants shortstop Juan Uribe made a diving stop and threw to first base in the second inning. The throw beat Gonzalez, but replays showed that Huff’s foot might have been pulled off the bag.
Emmel was the umpire at second base in Game 1 who called Giants rookie Buster Posey safe on a stolen base when replays showed he was out. Posey later scored the only run of the game.
Cox did not argue in the opener, but this time he came out of the dugout after first-base coach Glenn Hubbard started protesting. Cox argued for a bit and then was ejected by Emmel immediately after throwing his hat to the ground.
The Braves already trailed, 3-0, after Pat Burrell hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Tommy Hanson. Giants starter Matt Cain added an RBI single in the second and that looked as though it would be enough the way Braves hitters were struggling. Cain allowed seven hits and two walks, striking out six.