Dodgers Rally With a Flurry, Defeat Braves 6-3

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With 33 of their first 43 games spent battling division rivals, I nearly forgot there were other teams in the National League until realizing the Dodgers were playing the Atlanta Braves today. Unfortunately, the struggling offense the Dodgers recently displayed against the Giants and Padres spilled over to this Eastern division opponent as well. At least until the 8th inning.

Braves 3 9 0

Dodgers 6 11 0

Liberatore (W) Masset (L) Jansen (S)

In his last two starts, Brett Anderson has a loss and a no decision (a game the Dodgers also lost). Today, he pitched well enough for a win but did not receive the run support he would have hoped for. It wasn’t until late in the game before the Dodgers got their offense roaring again to pull out a 6-3 Memorial Day victory over the Braves.

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The Dodgers broke out of the gate early scoring on a walk with the bases loaded in the first inning. Joc Pederson led off with a double to shallow center, an area of the field Pederson has been trying to utilize more of lately. Jimmy Rollins bunted down the third base line, but an alert Christian Bethancourt jumped on the ball and threw to third where Pedro Ciriaco was waiting for Pederson’s arrival. After Howie Kendrick struck out, Adrian Gonzalez singled to left, sending Rollins to third. Justin Turner was then hit on the left hip by Perez, pushing Gonzalez to second. Andre Ethier drew a walk sending Rollins in to score and the Dodgers grabbed a 1-0 lead.

Howie Kendrick led off the 3rd inning with a single bouncing down the right field line. Gonzalez then popped out to Jace Peterson at second on a spectacular shallow right field catch. Turner singled up the middle, sending Kendrick to second, and Ethier singled to left, loading the bases. With a great opportunity to break the game open, Scott Van Slyke, swinging away on a 3-0 count, hit into a 6-4-3 double play, keeping the game at 1-0.

Williams Perez struggled with his control through the first 3 innings, throwing 64 pitches. Brett Anderson had 39 pitches over the same span, but the Braves evened the game in the 4th inning with a single up the middle by Ciriaco that scored Jonny Gomes from second. The 4th was a tough inning for Anderson who threw a first pitch ball to each hitter. He was able to get out of further trouble when he struck out the pitcher Perez on a slow breaking curve ball.

May 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero hits a two run home run in the ninth inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In the 5th, Anderson walked Cameron Maybin who then moved to second on a wild pitch. Anderson appeared to labor with his delivery, prompting a visit from the training staff. When he convinced everyone to leave him in the game, he gave up a single to Freddie Freeman, scoring Maybin from second and giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.

As Anderson appeared to weaken as the game progressed, Perez grew stronger. He struck out the side in the 4th, and gave up nothing more than a 2-out single to Gonzalez in the 5th before retiring the side again in the 6th. Perez finished pitching 6 innings giving up 1 run on 7 hits with 7 strikeouts and just one walk.

Anderson completed 7 innings giving up 2 runs on 7 hits with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks. Both pitchers performed well, but a Dodgers fans couldn’t help but wonder what happened to all that excess offense the team was putting together just a few short series ago. More on that later.

Luis Avilan came on in relief in the 7th inning, a decision that may have been an inning too hasty for the Braves. Juan Uribe, pinch hitting for Anderson, started off the 7th with a walk. Joc Pederson blooped a lazy single to left field (another area of the park he’s trying to utilize more often), moving Uribe to second. Rollins then bunted and Avila chose to force out Uribe at third. Kendrick also walked, loading the bases, and Gonzalez tapped out to Avila just right of the mound allowing Pederson to score, evening the game at 2-2.

It hadn’t been over-powering. A bloop single there, a force out here, a couple walks and a hit batsman, but between it all they were able to cobble together 2 runs and keep the game close. Now it would be time for the Dodgers to flex their muscles.

Andre Ethier pulled the Dodgers back in front 3-2 with a solo shot to center field off Nick Masset to kick off the 8th inning. A.J. Ellis worked a walk just in time for pinch-hitter Alex Guerrero to hit a 2-run homer to left-center field, expanding the lead to 5-2. But the Dodgers weren’t done, and Masset’s inning was about to get a little worse. After Joc Pederson grounded out, Jimmy Rollins knocked another home run over the right field wall giving L.A. a 6-2 lead. Suddenly the cold Dodgers bats appeared to be purring again.

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  • Adam Liberatore took over for Anderson in the 8th and set down the Braves in order. Chris Hatcher started the 9th and promptly gave up a double to Gomes and a single to Andrelton Simmons, sending Gomes to third.

    Exit Hatcher, enter Kenley Jansen.

    Simmons took second on defensive indifference as Jansen struck out Ciriaco. Christian Bethancourt grounded out to Justin Turner at third, scoring Gomes and cutting the Dodgers lead to 6-3. With two outs, Todd Cunningham stepped in and dribbled a weak grounder out to Rollins who threw on to first to end the game.

    For a moment there in the 8th inning it was as if the April Dodgers had returned. The power and clutch hitting by Ethier, Guerrero, et al speaks well for the team possibly breaking out of the brief funk they’ve been in recently. Their timing couldn’t be any better. After two more games against the Braves, the Dodgers travel to St. Louis for their first match up of the season against the Cardinals.

    The second game against the Braves is tomorrow night as Clayton Kershaw faces off against Julio Teheran.

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