Wednesday, April 25, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Braves 4, Dodgers 2
By Tony Jackson
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers wasted another strong performance from veteran left-hander Ted Lilly when closer Javy Guerra failed to do his job for the second night in a row, this time blowing a save and sticking the Dodgers with a 4-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Lilly, who was making just his third start after beginning the season on the 15-day disabled list, gave up a run on three hits over seven inning, slicing his ERA to a major league-leading 0.69. But his chance at a win vanished when Guerra gave up five consecutive one-out singles in the ninth, one of which was a line drive right at Guerra's face by Brian McCann that Guerra got just enough of his glove on to avert disaster.
Guerra had given up a two-out triple the night before after entering in the ninth inning with the game tied.
The Dodgers lost consecutive games for just the second time this season and fell to 13-6.
The running game, yes. Dee Gordon, who may or may not have been a big reason for a pregame meeting in which manager Don Mattingly told his team it had to do a better job at executing the running game, stole second base in the bottom of the third, leaving him with a 10-for-14 (71.4 percent) success rate for the season. He then made a beautiful, diving catch of a line drive to begin the top of the fourth, taking a hit away from Martin Prado.
The running game, no. Lilly, who historically has had problems stopping other teams from running, got an assist from catcher A.J. Ellis in the first inning, Ellis cutting down Prado trying to steal second. With that, Ellis had nailed five of the 14 runners (35.7 percent) who had attempted to steal on him this season.
The long ball. Just as the rain began to fall in the bottom of the sixth inning, Matt Kemp slammed his 10th home run of the season, two more than any other player in the majors, to break a 1-1 tie. Although the rain didn't last, it was comforting to know at that point that with Kemp having broken the tie, the game was now official.
If it wasn't for bad luck ... . Ellis, who runs about as fast as most catchers, lost what probably would have been a two-out RBI single in the sixth when Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who turned 40 a day earlier, dived like a youngster to make a spectacular stop. With Ellis running, Jones had plenty of time to scramble to his feet and fire something that wasn't quite a bullet to first -- the throw had to be scooped out of the dirt by first baseman Freddie Freeman -- to get Ellis fairly easily at first.
Still dealing. This is about as close to a "three down" as you're going to get when it comes to Kenley Jansen these days: he finally gave up a hit, a one-out single to Tyler Pastornicky in the eighth that snapped of six consecutive innings pitched by Jansen without allowing one. He also struck out just one batter, shaving his strikeouts-per-nine-innings to 14.2, a full two strikeouts off the all-time, major league record of 16.2 he set last season. But hey, he still has 20 strikeouts this season, tied for third on the team with Chris Capuano and more than two of the Dodgers' five starting pitchers.
More empty seats. If a baseball game fell in the forest and nobody was there to hear it, would it make a sound? There was rain in the forecast and it was once again somewhat chilly. But the announced crowd was 26,345. The actual crowd was, once again, considerably smaller.