3 up, 3 down: Braves 4, Dodgers 3

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
10:23
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers lost at home for the first time in eight games this season, closer Javy Guerra giving up a run in the top of the ninth and the Atlanta Braves sticking the Dodgers with a 4-3 defeat before 44,014 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

Guerra was pitching in a non-save situation with the game tied. He gave up a leadoff single to Tyler Pastornicky, who scored on a two-out triple by Martin Prado on fly ball that Matt Kemp perhaps should have caught but didn't.

The Dodgers (13-5) fell five wins short of matching the modern-day major league record they set three years ago by winning their first 13 home games.

The Good

Aiming high. Juan Rivera finally hit his first home run of the season -- this in his 60th plate appearance after averaging a jack every 28.5 plate appearances in his 11 previous big league season -- a two-run shot with two outs in the bottom of the first inning off Mike Minor, and it wasn't just any home run. It hugged the left-field line, passed just to the fair side of the foul pole and landed five rows deep into a mostly empty section at the end of the second deck, just the 20th shot in the 51-year history of the ballpark. More important, it gave the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead.

Getting low. Rivera followed up that blast with a spectacular, diving defensive play at first base to end the top of the third, taking a sure hit away from Prado. Alas, Rivera would leave the game because of a left hamstring strain after legging out an infield single in the sixth inning. He is listed as day to day.

Dealing. Kenley Jansen was lights-out again in the eighth inning after manager Don Mattingly finally was able to get him a couple of days off in a row, pitching around a two-out walk to Chipper Jones. Since suffering a blown save in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres on April 13, Jansen has made six appearances, pitching a total of 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts. He is now averaging 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Bad

Victimized by the ump. Although various replays seemed to show that first-base umpire Alan Porter got the call wrong, it didn't change the result on a fourth-inning play in which Kemp got himself doubled off first base on a pop fly by Rivera that almost fell in.
Almost. But Braves second baseman Dan Uggla managed to make a falling-down catch with his back to the infield in short right-center, then got up and noticed that Kemp was about halfway to second. Uggla's bullet to first didn't appear to be in time, but Porter thought it was.

Victimized by himself. Porter initially got another call wrong in the bottom of the sixth but reversed himself after consulting with the rest of the crew. This one also involved Kemp, who hit what appeared to be a double-play grounder. But the relay throw from Uggla bounced past first baseman Freddie Freeman, allowing not only Kemp to be safe at first but also Dee Gordon to come all the way home from second with the tying run. But Kemp, in celebrating the fact he had been safe at first and he slowed from a full sprint after crossing the bag, inadvertently made a 180-degree turn to his left instead of his right, allowing Freeman to tag him out.

Hitting the wall. After giving up a leadoff double to Michael Bourn in the first, Aaron Harang spent the next four innings dominating, retiring 12 of the next 13 batters. But after giving up a home run to Jones, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, Harang saw it all fall apart in the fifth and sixth, when the Braves got to him for three runs, five hits and two unintentional walks, turning a 2-0 Dodgers lead into a 3-2 deficit.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Yasiel Puig
BA HR RBI R
.316 12 54 59
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 15
RBIA. Gonzalez 70
RY. Puig 59
OPSY. Puig .943
WZ. Greinke 12
ERAC. Kershaw 1.76
SOZ. Greinke 153