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AP photo by David J. Phillip / Atlanta Braves starter Ian Anderson pitches during Game 3 of the World Series against the Houston Astros on Friday night at Truist Park.

Updated with more information at 2:10 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2021.

ATLANTA — Who pulls a starting pitcher after five innings when he's throwing a no-hitter in the third game of the World Series?

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, that's who.

And while the skipper was quick to admit at the close of the Braves' 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros on a rainy, windy, chilly Friday night at Truist Park that the move to remove Ian Anderson after those five no-hit innings "could have backfired," he was equally quick to explain why he didn't stay with him.

"I told Ian I was making the change, and he said, 'Are you sure? Are you sure?'" Snitker recalled. "I told him, 'I am. I'm going with my gut right here.' A couple of years ago, I probably would have been asking myself, 'Why am I doing this?' But the whole bullpen had had two days off, and we'd already decided no one was going to throw for more than one inning each. It was really all about doing what I thought gave us the best chance to win."

Said Anderson: "I thought there was a chance I could stay in, but as cool as the no-hitter was, getting the win is what it's all about."

The game turned in the Braves' favor in the bottom of the third inning, when the rain that threatened to cancel the contest until Saturday broke a bit and the wind momentarily died down, which allowed the standing-room-only crowd at Truist Park to focus all its attention on its hometown heroes, who were attempting to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

At that moment, neither the Braves nor the Astros had scored after combining for 17 runs in the first two games in Houston, a 6-2 Braves win in the opener Tuesday and a 7-2 Astros victory Wednesday.

The Braves were mounting a threat Friday, however, with Eddie Rosario — MVP of the National League Championship Series — standing on second base and Freddie Freeman on first as slugging third baseman Austin Riley came to the plate.

Photo Gallery

2021 World Series: Astros-Braves Game 3

Despite the nasty weather, up in the stands the Braves Nation was tomahawk chopping and chanting with the ferocity one might expect from a fan base that hadn't hosted a World Series since 1999.

Much of the country may view that chant and chop as disrespectful to Native Americans. But not in the Big Peach, and certainly not after Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred gave the chop, chant and Braves nickname his blessing earlier in the week when he said "it's important to understand that we have 30 markets around the country. They aren't all the same. The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community. In that market, taking into account the Native American community, it works."

Some might dispute that, including the National Congress of American Indians, but their midweek protests didn't register in Atlanta. The chant roared, the chop soared, and when Riley sent Houston starter Luis Rodriguez's pitch right down the third-base line for a double, Rosario lifted such enthusiasm to sonic proportions by crossing home plate.

Suddenly, the Braves led 1-0. The temperature, by now having dipped into the 40s, no longer seemed so unseasonably cold, even as you could see the players' breath exiting their mouths like tiny puffs of smoke.

Those with long memories may recall that this was the score that clinched the 1995 World Series against the Cleveland Indians at the since demolished flying saucer known as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Perhaps somewhat ironically, the Indians are no longer the Indians, but in a nod to the pleas of the National Congress of American Indians will be known as Cleveland Guardians beginning in the spring of 2022.

The guardians of the Truist Park scoreboard were the Braves pitchers, however, as they held the Astros without a hit through seven innings before pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz reached first on a bloop single that fell just in front of Rosario, who was racing in from left field.

Yet as spectacular as Anderson and relievers A.J. Minter and Luke Jackson had been before giving way to Tyler Matzek in the eighth, that bloop single would momentarily make the game quite interesting.

Attempting to catch the fleet-footed Jose Siri — who was pinch-running for Diaz — as he broke from first base, Atlanta catcher Travis d'Arnaud's throw to second escaped shortstop Dansby Swanson's glove and wound up in the outfield.

Siri advanced to third, further putting pressure on Matzek. Fortunately for the Braves, the 31-year-old left-hander was up to the task, just as he has been throughout the postseason. Then, d'Arnaud, as has so often happened with this team, became a secondary hero to Riley, homering in the bottom of the eighth to hand the Braves a 2-0 lead heading to the top of the ninth.

Yet as much as this night was about the current Braves, it was also about honoring the franchise's greatest single player: Hank Aaron, who died on Jan. 22.

"When they took the All-Star Game from us, we all said we need to do something special to honor him," Matzek said.

Said Snitker, who gave Aaron's widow Billye a hug prior to a touching tribute to Hammerin' Hank, then momentarily choked up as he recalled that moment: "I told her how much I miss Hank."

If anything may explain why Anderson was not more upset with his manager for pulling him during a no-hitter, that show of emotion may be a good place to start.

Before this one began, Snitker met with the media and was asked about how important it was to attempt to sweep the Astros in the three games scheduled in Atlanta on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to avoid returning to Houston.

"There's a big incentive to win every day," Snitker said. "That's kind of the way we're going to approach it. Right now we're coming into this game trying to win one in a row really. I think, just like in the regular season, you can't look ahead and say we have to do this. We don't have to do anything but win today — that's the way I look at it."

After one game at Truist Park, that approach seems to be right on schedule.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.

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