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'I didn't care about a no-hitter': Atlanta takes 2-1 lead in World Series with dominant pitching

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ATLANTA — It wasn’t Don Larsen jumping into Yogi Berra’s arms.

It wasn’t Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine or John Smoltz with a dominating World Series performance.

But no matter, Atlanta's five pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros at Truist Park, taking a 2 games to 1 advantage in the World Series.

It was Atlanta’s most dominant outing in a World Series game since Glavine and Mark Wohlers combined for a one-hitter in Game 6 to clinch the 1995 World Series title.

Really, this one could easily have been a no-hitter, the first since Larsen’s in 1956.

The Astros broke up the no-hot bid in the eighth when pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz hit a blooper that fell just in front of of left fielder Eddie Rosario, who got a late jump on the ball, causing the sellout crowd of 42,898 to moan. The Astros mustered only one more hit in the ninth inning.

"Number one, I didn't care about a no-hitter," said Atlanta manager Brian Snitker. "I just care about the tie run getting on. It happens."

Braves reliever A.J. Minter in the sixth inning of Game 3.
Braves reliever A.J. Minter in the sixth inning of Game 3.

It was the longest no-hitter in a World Series game since Jim Lonborg of Game 2 of the 1967 World Series when he went 7 ⅔ innings.

No matter, Tyler Matzek calmly struck out pinch-hitter Jason Castro for the first out. Jose Altuve popped up for the second out. Pinch-runner Jose Siri then stole second base, and advanced to third when catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s throw sailed into center field.

No sweat. Matzek induced a weak pop-up from Michael Brantley, with the ball dropping harmlessly into third baseman Austin Riley’s glove for the third out.

It sucked the life out of the Astros and d’Arnaud iced the game with a two-out homer over the center-field in the bottom of the eighth, sending the crowd screaming into the night.

On a night they honored Hank Aaron, remembered Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Bill Bartholomay, Atlanta sure carved out their own modern-day piece of history.

It started with starter Ian Anderson pitching five hitless innings.

And four relievers later came the shutout.

GAME 3: Atlanta holds emotional tribute to Hank Aaron before the game

NEAR HISTORY: Atlanta pitchers combine for seven hitless innings until blooper

This is the most pitchers ever used in a World Series game permitting two or fewer hits.

"They did what they had to do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "We didn't breathe no sigh of relief (when Anderson was relieved)."

Anderson is now 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his postseason career, the fourth-lowest ERA through the first eight postseason starts, trailing only Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson (0.99), Orlando Hernandez (1.22) and Cliff Lee (1.26).

Was Anderson upset about Atlanta manager Brian Snitker's decision to pull him after five hitless innings?

“It was fine," Anderson said. “I have the utmost trust in Snit' and the bullpen, those guys coming in.”

He still has not permitted more than two runs in his eight career starts, the fourth-most in franchise history behind only Hall of Famers Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux.

"He was commanding his pitches," said Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. "I mean, give him all the credit. He pitched his tail off tonight, and we didn't really get anything going offensively."

Really, no one even hit the ball hard during his 76-pitch outing.

He issued three walks and a hit-by-pitch, but never got into any trouble.

Still, as his teammates will tell you, he loves the big stage.

This is a 23-year-old kid, the youngest on either roster, who beat Gerrit Cole in his major-league debut. He became the first pitcher since Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson in 1905-1911 to yield two or fewer earned runs in his first five postseason starts.

"He's been awesome," Snitker said. "Like I said, the kid is so mature. But we got a lot of three-ball counts. The biggest credit to Ian is he never stops trying to make pitches, making pitches. He never gives in. He stays with his stuff. He stays with the game plan. If it doesn't work, he goes to the next hitter and starts anew."

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: World Series Game 3: Braves nearly no-hit Astros to take 2-1 lead