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Monday, April 23, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 7, Braves 2

By Tony Jackson

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers, who allegedly has fashioned their hot early-season start around a weak schedule, began what figures to be a challenging six-game homestand by hammering the Atlanta Braves 7-2 on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers got a strong pitching performance from Chris Capuano, and their offense came to life one day after being shut out in the final game of their series in Houston, this time pounding out 15 hits, nine of them against normally formidable Braves starter Jair Jurrjens, who was knocked out after three-plus innings.

The good

Busting out. James Loney, Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis, who hit sixth, seventh and eighth in the Dodgers lineup and whose averages coming into the game ranged from .211 to .222, combined to go 8-for-11, score four runs and drive in five. Uribe led the way, tying his career high for hits in a game by going 4-for-4 to raise his average from .211 to .286.

Wriggling free. With his pitch count rising fast, Capuano, who to that point had been in and out of trouble and generally pitched like the fifth starter he is, worked deftly out of a first-and-third, nobody-out jam in the fourth to preserve a two-run lead, with an assist from the fact that jam came in a good spot in the Braves' order. Capuano began his escape by striking out Jack Wilson. After Jurrjens bunted David Ross to second, Michael Bourn grounded harmlessly to second, stranding both runners in scoring position. The Dodgers came back in their half to score two runs, doubling their lead.

Web gem du jour. Dee Gordon has never let his slow start at the plate affect his defense, and he flashed the leather again in the top of the second inning, diving headlong behind the bag to take a sure hit away from Freddie Freeman. Gordon burst to his feet and fired a bullet to first base, getting Freeman by a step to end the inning.

The bad

Double fizzle. With runners on the corners, one out, a run already in and a chance for the Dodgers to blow the game open in the bottom of the first inning against Jurrjens, Juan Rivera grounded into an inning-ending double play on a 1-0 pitch. It was the fourth time in 57 plate appearances this season -- and the third time in the past six games -- that Rivera has grounded into a twin killing.

Double fizzle II. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier began the fifth inning with back-to-back singles, Ethier's an opposite field shot that landed in shallow left-center and allowed Kemp to easily reach third -- which would have set the Dodgers up with a first-and-third, nobody-out situation if Kemp hadn't gotten greedy and tried to sneak home when the throw came in to second base. Kemp was nailed easily at the plate, and then Ethier, who had wandered too far off first, also was nailed by a snap throw from Ross. With that, first-and-third-nobody-out became two-outs-nobody-on.

Same old story. Another disappointing crowd, this one officially announced at 26,376 but in reality nowhere near that.