Los Angeles, the worst-hitting team in the National League, lost
its fifth in a row but finally managed to score more than three
runs -- the first time that's happened since July 22.
The Dodgers had scored only 11 runs in their previous nine
games, including a 2-0 shutout loss to the Braves on Friday.
Atlanta built a 5-0 lead, then had to hold on as Los Angeles
mounted a rare offensive charge. After managing only one run and
three hits through the first six innings, the Dodgers knocked out
Hampton (8-5) in the seventh.
Cesar Izturis and pinch-hitter Mike Kinkade had two-out,
run-scoring doubles off the Atlanta starter. Reliever Kevin
Gryboski gave up a bloop single to Ricky Henderson, driving home
Kinkade to pull the Dodgers within 6-4.
Ray King finally got the third out, striking out pinch-hitter
Adrian Beltre. King pitched the eighth before giving way to John
Smoltz, who struck out the side in the ninth for his 42nd save in
Hampton surrendered six hits and was charged with all four
Dodgers runs in 6 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out six to
extend his winning streak, the longest since he began an ill-fated
stint in Colorado with five straight wins in 2001.
In the fifth, Hampton helped himself at the plate with a leadoff
single to left. The Braves loaded the bases with one out on Marcus
Giles' walk and Sheffield's infield single, which slipped under
Ashby's glove on the right side of the mound.
On the very next pitch, Jones broke the game open with a liner
into the right-field corner. When the ball got caught up in the
padding, all three runners scored and Jones cruised into third with
a triple. That was it for Ashby, who gave up eight hits in 4 1-3
The Dodgers' frustration was evident in the eighth, when both
Paul LoDuca and manager Jim Tracy were ejected by home-plate umpire
Joe West. LoDuca was thrown out for arguing a called third strike,
and Tracy got tossed when he came out to defend his catcher.
This was a matchup between the teams at opposite ends of the NL
hitting charts. The Braves lead the league in homers and runs,
while the Dodgers are by far the worst team in those two
Epitomizing the offensive gap, the Braves started a lineup that
included seven players with double-figure homers and six with at
least 50 RBI; Shawn Green (11 homers, 51 RBI) was the only Los
Angeles starter meeting that standard.
Robin Ventura, starting his first game for Los Angeles since
being acquired from the Yankees, wasn't much help. He went
Green, 13-of-19 vs. Hampton in his career, went hitless in
two at-bats against the Atlanta starter but did drive in the first
Dodgers run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. ... The game was
halted briefly in the sixth when West ordered the lights turned on
after late-afternoon shadows crept over the left side of the field.
... The crowd of 47,506 was the third sellout of the season at