In the last six games the Los Angeles Dodgers combined to score a total of seven runs, but tonight they broke out of their recent slump with the long ball as they defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-3 in the first game of a three-game series.
Andre Ethier started Los Angeles’ homerun barrage in the eighth inning with a solo shot to center field giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead off of Braves reliever Nick Masset. That was Ethier’s sixth homerun of the season as he continues to take advantage of his opportunity to play every day once again.
After a walked to eighth place hitter A.J. Ellis, pinch-hitter Alex Guerrero brought the Dodger crowd to their feet as he took Masset deep for the second time in the inning with a two-run blast to left field extending the lead to 5-2. Adding insult to injury, Jimmy Rollins would hit a solo homer off Masset for a third time in the inning giving the Dodgers a comfortable 6-2 lead heading to the ninth inning.
Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision as both back of the rotation starters kept the opposing lineups at bay. Dodger left-hander Brett Anderson went seven innings allowing two runs on seven hits, while walking two batters and striking out three. Braves rookie right-hander Williams Perez put together another splendid outing as he went six innings allowing one run on seven hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Despite the solid pitching line, Perez did get off to a shaky start. He gave up a leadoff double to Joc Pederson, but answered by getting the next two batters, including getting Pederson at third base on a sacrifice attempt by Jimmy Rollins. However, the bases would get loaded after Adrian Gonzalez poked a single to left field and Justin Turner was hit by a pitch. Perez seemed to lose his command as he walked Andre Ethier to score the first run of the game.
That would be the only run Williams Perez allowed even though he put himself in another bases loaded situation in the third inning. Luckily for him he would get Scott Van Slyke to ground into an inning ending double play. After that he settled in and cruised the rest of the way, including the fourth inning where he struck out the side.
Brett Anderson had complete control of the Braves lineup for the first three innings. He induced a ton of groundball outs tonight, 13 to be exact, and anytime Atlanta squared a pitch up it was for a single. However, the Braves would get on the board in the fourth inning as third baseman Pedro Ciriaco would come through with a two-out single to center field to score Jonny Gomes from second base. Atlanta would come right back in the fifth inning as Freddie Freeman drove in Cameron Maybin with a single to right field giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.
Before the Dodgers soared past the Braves in the eighth inning they would tie the game in the seventh inning off Atlanta’s lackluster bullpen. Left-hander Luis Avilan has been one of the bright spots in the Braves pen, but one thing that has been a problem for Atlanta relief pitchers has been walks and it was no different tonight. Coming into tonight’s game the Braves bullpen had surrendered 60 free passes which is the fifth-most in MLB. Avilan would walk two batters in the seventh inning which led to the Dodgers third bases loaded situation of the night. Again, the Braves would minimize the damage but Adrian Gonzalez tied the game at two on a groundout to the pitcher down the first base line.
Dodger reliever Adam Liberatore (1-1) picked up his first career win, and closer Kenley Jansen came in the ninth and picked up his fourth save of the season. Jansen did allow a run to score on an RBI groundout by Christian Bethancourt making the final score come out to 6-3, but that run was charged to Chris Hatcher as he gave up back-to-back hits to Jonny Gomes and Andrelton Simmons.
The battle of staff aces will battle it out tomorrow night. Atlanta will send RHP Julio Teheran (4-1, 3.91 ERA) to the mound to face LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 4.32 ERA).