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Dodgers Get Past Braves

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The Dodgers offense had been in a funk scoring only five runs in their last 33 innings since Tuesday. But the Dodgers found their offense mustering just enough to give them a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers had five extra-base hits and got a knock from every starter in the lineup punctuated by James Loney’s game-winning RBI single in the seventh inning off of reliever Eric O’Flaherty.

“Any situation doesn’t scare him,” manager Joe Torre said. “He just waits for the pitch to hit, and he got one and did something with it.”

“You might only have one shot with people on base during the game,” Loney said. “I was just trying to see the ball and react to it, trying to get something good to hit.”

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The Dodgers got things started in the first inning off of Braves’ starter Kenshin Kawakami when Rafael Furcal led off with a double, went to third on Matt Kemp’s single and scored on Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly. Kemp came home on Ronnie Belliard’s ground-rule double for the 2-0 lead.

The scoring continued in the second inning when with Clayton Kershaw on first base on a fielder’s choice, Furcal hit a triple to score him. Kemp then hit a sacrifice fly to send Furcal home and give the Dodgers the 4-0 lead.

The lead looked like it would hold up based on Dodger starter’s Clayton Kershaw’s early dominance. So far this season, Kershaw has struggled in first innings this season with a 7.36 ERA in his 11 games started. He quickly put it behind him in ten pitches, all strikes, and wouldn’t have had a baserunner had catcher Russell Martin not let a third strike on wunderkind Jason Heyward go to the backstop. It was no biggie as Kershaw struck out Troy Glaus to end the inning.

But the Braves got to Kershaw in the third inning cutting the deficit to 4-2 on a Yunel Escobar RBI single and an error by third baseman Jamey Carroll on a Melky Cabrera grounder.

In the seventh inning and with his pitch count reaching the 100-pitch threshold, Kershaw looked like he would get out of the inning striking out Heyward for the fourth time after giving up a one-out single to Omar Infante. After convincing Torre to leave him in to face Troy Glaus, Kershaw walked him.

“I’d rather have the walk than a careless pitch,” Torre said.

“It was a frustrating at-bat,” Kershaw ruminated. “You get Glaus 0-2, you’ve got to finish him. It’s my fault. 0-2 to a walk is terrible. You can’t do that.

“I was trying to pitch him careful, but not that careful. Shouldn’t have walked him.”

Torre brought in Hong-Chih Kuo who gave up the game-tying double to Escobar.

“The thing that got him was going 3-2,” Torre said. “That’s why the result was what it was.”

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Despite getting a no-decision, Torre thought Kershaw did a great job.

“He threw really well,” Torre said. “I thought he pitched tough tonight.”

Kershaw was a bit more lukewarm in his self-evalution.

“It wasn't great, it wasn't terrible,” Kershaw said. “It was an average night. I walked too many guys, gave them too many opportunities. But it was good to get the win.”

Not to go unmentioned was Jamey Carroll who with a 2-for-4 performance tonight has now gone 9-for-16 over his last four games. Despite that it wasn’t until this game that he felt comfortable.

“To be honest with you it wasn’t until tonight that I finally got some good wood on the ball,” Carroll said. “I had some hits in the other games that managed to find their way through.”

“He’s a good player,” Torre said. “We got him as a back-up player, but now with the uncertainty of Casey Blake he’s going to see a lot more action. He knows how to play. He’s a big get for us.”

Kawakami with the loss falls to 0-8 and still waiting to get his first win since August 31. He also becomes the first Braves pitcher since Rosy Ryan in 1925 to lose his first eight decisions of a season.

Heyward also had the unfortunate honor of having the 55th platinum sombrero - five strikeouts in a nine-inning game.