LOS ANGELES -- Many of the Los Angeles Dodgers' biggest worries two weeks ago are becoming strengths.
Their pitching rotation looks a lot more stout at the bottom, and their bullpen isn't as prone to blow narrow leads. Both trends factored into helping the Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 at Turner Field on Tuesday night for their fifth win in the past seven games.
How it happened: After two good starts from new acquisitions Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia, Dan Haren continued to fight to keep his rotation spot. Don Mattingly gave his hottest hitter -- Adrian Gonzalez, and his leadoff spark, Dee Gordon -- days off, and the rest of the lineup looked fairly anemic, but they managed to scrape together enough hits in the second and fifth innings to make a winner of Haren (10-9). Mattingly seems to have settled on a fairly reliable final four relievers in Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell, Brandon League and Kenley Jansen. They combined to pitch three scoreless innings at the end.
Hits: Haren spent the previous night watching his potential replacement, Correia, pitch six strong in his Dodgers debut. But Haren figures to hold off any challengers for his rotation spot for at least one more turn after pitching six solid innings, holding the Braves to two runs and six hits and striking out six batters, four in his final two innings. Haren had a livelier-than-usual fastball, hitting 89 mph several times, and managed to avoid big innings in the second and third. After five miserable starts, Haren now has two straight good ones on which to build.
Misses: Mattingly invited A.J. Ellis into his office in late July when the Dodgers were last playing the Braves. He noticed Ellis seemed to be pressing in his at-bats, and the catcher admitted as much, saying he was trying to get his numbers back to where he thought they should be -- in the .250 area with some power and plenty of walks. Mattingly said to consider it a new season and put his focus on helping win games. That relieved some pressure for a while, but no matter what Ellis tries, he can't seem to get his bat on track. He's hitting .087 with 15 strikeouts in his past 25 games.
Stat of the game: The Dodgers are playing .609 baseball on the road. That's the best road winning percentage in the majors.