By Mark Bowman and Jaylon Thompson
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- Though they have faded over the past couple of weeks, the Braves have been one of the few teams able to solve the Dodgers, who saw their bid for another 10-game win streak erased by the two-run home run Tyler Flowers hit off Pedro Baez in the eighth inning of Atlanta's 5-3 win on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.
Flowers' opposite-field, two-out homer was his first career pinch-hit home run. The blast proved decisive for the Braves, who have accounted for three of the seven losses the Dodgers have suffered over their past 47 games. Atlanta has gone 4-12 over its past 16 games, but three of those victories have come against Los Angeles.
"You're not going to play great every day," Flowers said. "It just so happens we've played good games against them, in particular. We've played good games against a number of other teams in first place in their respective divisions, and we've played bad games against teams that are toward the bottom of their divisions. That's just the game."
The Dodgers were bidding to become the first team since the 1954 Braves to record three winning streaks of at least 10 games in one season. Los Angeles is 20-3 since July 4, with each of those three losses coming against Atlanta.
Rookie sensation Cody Bellinger got Los Angeles rolling when he opened the second inning against Julio Teheran with his 30th home run, but the early lead proved to be short-lived for the visitors as Danny Santana tagged Brock Stewart for a two-run homer in the bottom half of the frame.
The Dodgers regained a lead on Chase Utley's two-out RBI single in the fifth, but the Braves tied the game again in the bottom half of the frame on Freddie Freeman's one-out RBI single.
"Teheran threw five innings and the bullpen kept us at bay," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "They are a scrappy bunch and they got some athleticism. … We put together six hits but couldn't get a lot of baserunners to put things together tonight."
Stewart completed four innings and then was lifted for a pinch-hitter when Yasiel Puig doubled with one out in the fifth. Teheran allowed his 27th homer of the season, matching his career high, and exited after the fifth because of a right leg cramp that developed during his fourth-inning at-bat.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Costly bobble: After Ender Inciarte opened the fifth inning with a single, Brandon Phillips followed with a potential double-play grounder that Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager fumbled behind second base. Phillips was thrown out at first base, but Inciarte remained in position to score on the RBI single from Freeman, whose two hits matched his total from the previous five games combined.
"It's a tough infield to play, and right there you just don't know what the baseball is going to do," Roberts said. "It is a clean inning potentially, and that kind of creates a little traffic that gets Freeman up to bat. It just happens."
Brothers in arms: Recently demoted Braves closer Jim Johnson allowed the Dodgers to put two on with no outs in the seventh inning and then retired two straight batters before exiting with runners at first and second base. With the lefty Utley coming to the plate, the Braves called upon Rex Brothers and the Dodgers countered with Enrique Hernandez. Brothers won this battle with a three-pitch strikeout.
"I felt good with [Brothers] and I told [catcher Kurt Suzuki], 'Don't give in to him because if we walk him, they've got a lefty [Seager] on deck they're not going to pinch-hit for," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I just kind of felt you go with your gut and the matchup right there. I've seen Chase Utley too long and seen him do many things with that bat."
"I just erred on the side of caution because if something goes at this time of year, he probably doesn't have enough time to come back, and we need him out there. I know he hated to come out of the game." -- Snitker, on his decision to remove Teheran, who completed his five-inning, 64-pitch outing after feeling the cramp during both of the two swings he took during his fourth-inning at-bat
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This loss snapped another streak for Los Angeles. The Dodgers had won 53 straight games in which they held a lead at any point in the game. The streak dated back to May 17.
The Braves have claimed an MLB-high 16 last at-bat wins this season, and their six pinch-hit homers are also tied for the most in the Majors.
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers:Alex Wood faces his former team as the three-game series concludes at 4:35 p.m. PT on Thursday at SunTrust Park. Wood was drafted by the Braves in 2012 and played three seasons with the club. He is 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in his last three starts.
Braves:Sean Newcomb will take the mound when the series finale begins at 7:35 p.m. ET. Newcomb delivered six solid innings against the Dodgers on July 23, but inconsistent control has prevented him from being as consistently efficient as he was in June.