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Dodgers 4-2 Loss to Atlanta Leaves Guerra Sore

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Top Deck of Dodger Stadium. (LAist/Jimmy Bramlett)
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The Dodgers might have dodged the incoming storm, but they couldn't escape the clouds of discontent from up high in their 4-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the rubber game of the series.

"It's a tough way to lose, that's for sure," Manager Don Mattingly said. "There's not a whole lot more to say about it."

Heading into the top of the ninth inning, the Dodgers held the 2-1 lead with closer Javy Guerra and the game exploded in his face. Literally. After giving up a one-out single to Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann lined a pitch back to Guerra's cheek. No glove, no deflection, no nothing.

"Very scary," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "It sounded pretty fleshy, a lot of contact with his face. That's all we're concerned with is his health."

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Guerra fell to the ground but instantly popped back on his feet pointing to second base as the ball slowly rolled to shortstop Dee Gordon.

"I thought if I got out of the way it could be a double play," Guerra said to reporters after passing the baseline concussion tests after the game.

After consultation at the mound with the trainers, Mattingly didn't hesitate to leave Guerra on the mound.

"He's clear-eyed and he's looking at me," Mattingly described Guerra after the play was called dead. "Obviously I'm not going to make that decision, but with the trainer saying that he's okay at that point I'm not really considering it."

And Guerra, with a bit of hockey mentality with the LA Kings' Anze Kopitar looking on, did look good getting an 0-2 count on the next batter Dan Uggla. But an RBI single to Uggla that tied the game, then another RBI single by the aged Chipper Jones, then yet another RBI single to Jason Heyward. That finally forced Mattingly's hands to go to Josh Lindblom for the final two outs.

"We were in the position to win, and I've let the team down two days in a row," Guerra said.

Dating back to the final game of the last homestand where a triple play bailed Guerra out of trouble, Guerra has had some troubles in the ninth inning. But Mattingly refused to acknowledge any closer controversy.

"For me, Javy hasn't done antying wrong," Mattingly said. "He's still throwing the ball well for me.

"You can sit here and question all you want. Our ballclub has confidence in Javy. The game will tell us what to do with him. If he has trouble there, then we'll get him a different spot.

"At this point, I'm not getting into a big closer thing again."

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For Guerra, the swollen right cheek and the soreness could have been prevented. "If I don't leave it up, it doesn't come back at me."

The storm clouds were looming before the game. Despite the 13-5 record heading into Wednesday's game, Dodger coaches were concerned about the team's baserunning. "I don't think we're good enough to give runs away or give outs away," Manager Don Mattingly told reporters befere the game.

"I want guys to be aggressive, but I don't want guys to run into outs just to say they're aggressive."

The coaching staff held a meeting with position players before the game to discuss the baserunning. Mattingly wouldn't go into specifics and neither would the coaching staff.

"There's something we're not doing, and I can't put my finger on it," first base coach Davey Lopes commented.

However Mattingly did say that base stealing wasn't a concern for him. "It's been more the base running stuff, not the stolen bases," Mattingly assured reporters.

The meeting seemed to have gotten the attention of the players. In the fifth inning trailing 1-0, Tony Gwynn, Jr. led the inning with a single and stole second base. A.J. Ellis grounded a single to shallow centerfield. As Gwynn started to turn third base, third base coach Tim Wallach gave him the stop sign and there Gwynn stood at second.

Ted Lilly bunted A.J. Ellis to second and a ground out by Dee Gordon allowed Gwynn to score tying the game.

Of course that set the stage for Matt Kemp. Just as the rain started to trickle down and people were heading for cover, Kemp unleashed a 437-foot homer, his league-leading 10th of the season, to left centerfield to give the Dodgers the 2-1 lead.

After the final out was recorded and the final postgame remarks were uttered, the rain started pouring on the tarp-covered field. The Dodgers will come back to face NL East leading Washington Nationals starting Friday with the rain hopefully cleansing the sting of Wednesday night.