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Atlanta Braves Blow Five-Run Lead to Los Angeles Dodgers, Drop Series Opener

September 3rd, 2011 at 9:27 AM
By Cody Fields

Just when the Atlanta Braves had the first game of a three-game series in the bag against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they quickly had a rude awakening the Dodgers obliterated their five-run lead and then some, dropping the series opener 8-6.

Atlanta initially did a good job of roughing up Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley for five runs – three earned – over four innings and even put together four hits with runners in scoring position.

After Freddie Freeman singled, Alex Gonzalez walked and Brandon Beachy bunted them over in the bottom of the second inning, Michael Bourn singled to left to bring in Freeman. While Martin Prado was batting, Bourn stole second, and Prado hit a shot to Dee Gordon at short that was booted, scoring Gonzalez. Brian McCann then floated a single into center to give the Braves an early three-run lead.

The Braves looked like they were on pace for a blow out in the third when Chipper Jones led off with a walk, which Freeman followed with a double. Jason Heyward then hit a hard one-hopper to second to drive in Jones, and Gonzalez ripped an RBI double into the left field corner.

Beachy's troubles then started in the fourth. Though he had faced the minimum through three, Gordon led with a single, and Beachy then loaded the bases by walking James Loney and plunking Matt Kemp. Juan Rivera followed that with a two-run single with still no one out before Beachy got Andre Ethier to fly out and induced a double play from Aaron Miles.

Rivera would get to Beachy again in the sixth with another RBI single, bringing Beachy's line to three runs over six innings, though he struck out seven.

"I felt good about getting out of that sixth inning, but I’m always going to come back to this – I don’t need to be in those jams. Those aren’t necessary," Beachy said.

The seventh inning proved to be a nightmare for Arodys Vizcaino, who came in to relieve Beachy. He struck out Rod Barajas for the first out, but then gave up three straight singles to Justin Sellers, Tony Gwinn and Gordon before giving up a bases clearing double to Loney, which provided Vizcaino with his second blown save.

Christhian Martinez came in after Vizcaino threw a wild pitch, intentionally walked Kemp and walked Rivera. Martinez, however, couldn't immediately put out the fire, as Ethier hit a two-run single before Martinez walked Miles to load the bases again. He finally got Atlanta out of the inning by getting Barajas to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Though Dan Uggla blasted his 31st homer in the ninth to bring the Braves within two runs, they could not do anything with the tying run at the plate after Jones walked. Javy Guerra fanned Freeman and Heyward to secure the win for the Dodgers.

"We had all momentum, and we lost it. Somehow, we lost it. It’s just one of those games that kind of slips away from you and you don’t know how," Jones said.

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Florida Marlins Friday to drop the Braves to 8.5 games back in the division. The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals now trail the Braves in the Wild Card by 8.5 games.

Mike Minor (4-2, 4.37 ERA) will try to right the ship against Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 3.46 ERA) in Saturday's 7:10 EDT start.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Brandon Beachy, Chad Billingsley, Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, Dee Gordon, James Loney, Juan Rivera, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, MLB

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