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Rapid Reaction: Braves 3, Dodgers 2

8/13/2014

ATLANTA -- The Los Angeles Dodgers lost a game, but they're hoping they didn't lose one of their best starting pitchers for an extended period.

Hyun-Jin Ryu left Wednesday night's 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning because of a strained right gluteus muscle. The extent of the injury was not immediately known, but the Dodgers have been heavily reliant on Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke as they climbed to their perch in the NL West.

Their division lead shrank for the first time in 10 days, now reduced to five games.

How it happened: Ryu injured himself while making a 3-and-2 pitch to B.J. Upton, Ryu's 97th pitch of the night. He gestured toward the dugout and, after meeting with the trainer, limped off the field. Up to then, he had pitched a fairly solid game, striking out seven Braves and giving up six hits and three runs. The Dodgers seemed to have a lot of beefs with plate umpire Mark Ripperger, and Braves pitcher Ervin Santana took advantage of a big strike zone to pile up nine strikeouts. The Dodgers could have knocked Santana out as early as the second inning, when they managed five hits off him. They got some bad luck when A.J. Ellis' sharply hit grounder went right to third baseman Chris Johnson, who turned a double play.

The Dodgers loaded the bases off Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning, but Matt Kemp hit into a game-ending double play.

Hits: Carl Crawford is among the Dodgers' streakiest hitters, but he has generally been productive when he's healthy. He has been on a tear throughout this trip. Crawford was in the midst of what little offense the Dodgers could muster, driving home Kemp with a single and later scoring on Miguel Rojas' hit up the middle. Crawford is 13-for-29 (.448) in the six games on this trip. Eight of those hits came in the past three games.

Misses: Many of the Dodgers players had some familiarity with Santana, either from having played in the American League (eg., Crawford) or from having played the Angels in interleague play. Yasiel Puig had never faced him before, and he looked pretty lost. Puig struck out in all three at-bats against Santana and four for the game. He flailed at a couple of sliders in the dirt to strike out in the fifth. Overall, Puig has been in a small slump -- 2-for-21 without an extra base hit.

Stat of the game: Dodgers starting pitchers have been a surprising part of the offense lately. They have reached base safely in six straight games since Aug. 8, going 6-for-12. Ryu singled in the second inning.

Up next: The Dodgers try to win the series Thursday at 9:10 a.m. PT behind Roberto Hernandez (6-8, 3.83 ERA). The Braves will start former Dodger Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.31).