- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATLANTA – The Dodgers continued to pad what has become the biggest division lead in the National League by beating a team they've come to master.
They beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Monday night at Turner Field to extend their lead over the San Francisco Giants to five games. The Dodgers struggled against the Braves last season, going 2-5, but starting with October's National League Division Series, they are 8-2 against Atlanta.
How it happened: Kevin Correia joined the Dodgers here Monday after a trade from the Minnesota Twins, who were playing in Oakland at the time. He said hello to a former teammate, Brian Wilson, and then went out and ingratiated himself with his new teammates by pitching six strong innings. The Braves could manage only one run against Correia, on Justin Upton's RBI single in the fourth inning. Correia allowed four hits and a walk while striking out five Braves. A career .115 hitter coming straight from the American League, he also had two hits.
The Dodgers were facing one of the better pitchers in the National League, Julio Teheran, and they didn't make any headway until the sixth, when they bunched four consecutive singles to score a run. Carl Crawford had an infield single to bring in another, and Ramiro Pena bobbled a perfect double-play ball to allow the third run to score.
Hits: Someone asked manager Don Mattingly before the game why he starts Crawford over Andre Ethier in left field. Crawford, after all, entered Monday batting .239. That brought out the former hitting coach in Mattingly, who said Crawford was swinging the bat as well as any Dodgers hitter before he missed six weeks with a sprained ankle and that he has hit balls harder than his recent numbers suggest. Crawford also brings more speed to the table. Mattingly’s explanation made more sense five hours later. Crawford went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Ethier probably wouldn't have beaten out the infield hit that led to another run.
Misses: The Braves' middle infield is getting a bit stretched. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was out with an ankle injury and Tommy La Stella left the game in the second inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. The replacements, Emilio Bonifacio and Pena, did not have good nights. Bonifacio threw the ball away on a double-play ball, disrupted by a Justin Turner slide, and Pena dropped Turner's easy double-play ball in the sixth.
Stat of the game: Including last October's playoffs, Yasiel Puig is batting .510 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and eight RBIs in 49 career at-bats against the Braves.
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