ATLANTA (AP) -- It's too early to give the NL East to the Atlanta Braves -- or even to count out Los Angeles in the NL West.
Jeff Weaver won his fourth straight decision and Milton Bradley
hit a three-run homer as the Dodgers tightened the races in both divisions by beating the Braves 7-4 on Thursday night.By splitting a doubleheader with Washington on Thursday, Philadelphia pulled within 4½ games of first-place Atlanta in the NL East.The Dodgers, 10 games under .500, are only four games behind first-place San Diego in the NL West after the Padres' 2-0 loss to Florida on Thursday night."We can see the finish line," Bradley said. "We're very capable of winning the division. ... We're going to win it."Bradley hit a belt-high changeup from John Thomson for his 13th homer to highlight a five-run fourth inning."That was the difference. We went out and put some runs on the board," Bradley said. "That was big for us."Weaver (11-8) gave up 10 hits and four runs -- three earned -- in six innings. He has pitched at least six innings in 16 consecutive starts, a career-best streak.Weaver gave up three hits, including a run-scoring single by Brian McCann, in the second inning. He then shut out the Braves until Andruw Jones hit his major league-leading 39th homer, a two-run shot to left, in the sixth. The homer drove in Chipper Jones, who reached on third baseman Oscar Robles' fielding error.Adam LaRoche followed with his 15th homer, cutting the Dodgers' lead to 7-4.The Dodgers have won five of seven.The Braves fell to 5-4 on their 12-game homestand and wasted a chance to pull away from both Philadelphia and Washington in the division."You can't worry about the other guys," Andruw Jones said. "It's too early. We've got a month and a half left. We've got to worry about ourselves."After watching Thomson give up eight hits and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, LaRoche said there is reason to worry if the team's starting pitchers don't deliver."In my opinion, that's our only shot in the playoffs, is to have those guys on," LaRoche said. "I mean, that's it. If those guys aren't on, I don't see us making it past the first round."I don't care how good your lineup is, if the starting pitching's not there, then it's tough to win. I think we've all seen that in the past, we haven't gotten out of the first round," he said.Duaner Sanchez pitched a perfect ninth for his second save -- both in this series.Los Angeles scored two runs with two outs in the first. Thomson (3-3) walked Bradley and gave up a single to Jeff Kent, who had three hits. Olmedo Saenz followed with a two-run double to center.Another walk, to Jayson Werth, hurt Thomson in the fourth. Jose Cruz Jr. singled to right, moving Werth to third, and Dioner Navarro drove him in with a single to center. Weaver then popped up a bunt past a diving Thomson for an infield hit to load the bases.After Cruz scored from third on Robles' fly ball to center, Bradley drilled a first-pitch homer, his 13th, high and deep into the right field seats for a 7-1 lead.The homer knocked Thomson from the game."It was the location," said Thomson of the pitch to Bradley. "If it was down and in where it needed to be, I don't think he hits it for a home run."After spending almost three months on the disabled list with a finger injury, Thomson has split two starts, giving up 11 earned runs."Terrible," Thomson said of Thursday's start. "I was behind every batter, I threw the ball over the middle of the plate and they pretty much sat on my fastball."Thomson said his finger "has nothing to do with it."
Weaver is 4-0 in his career against the Braves. He had a no-decision in a May 13 start against Atlanta. The Dodgers won that game 7-4. ... The teams finished 3-3 in their six-game season series. The Braves won two of three at Los Angeles in May. ... The Braves had not lost a home series since dropping two of three to Milwaukee from July 8-10.