Atlanta Braves' Tim Hudson reacts after striking out in the third inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, April 18, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
LOS ANGELES — Ted Lilly pitched seven scoreless innings and James Loney had two RBIs, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
Lilly (1-2) recorded his first victory of the season in four starts, after signing a three-year, $33 million contract in October. The 35-year-old left-hander scattered four hits, struck out six and did not allow a runner past second base.
Matt Guerrier pitched a perfect eighth and Jonathan Broxton gave up two runs in the ninth on an RBI groundout by Freddie Freeman and a double by Nate McLouth before getting the final out.
Braves starter Tim Hudson (2-2) gave up four runs and six hits in six innings and struck out four. All 13 runs allowed this season by the right-hander have come during the first three innings of his games. In his previous start against the Dodgers on Aug. 13 in Atlanta, Hudson held them to three hits over eight innings in a 1-0 victory.
Andre Ethier singled in the seventh inning against Jairo Asencio to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in the majors and one shy of his career best in 2006. He was hitless in three at-bats against Hudson, and is now 3 for 20 lifetime against the three-time All-Star.
The Braves and Dodgers met for the first time since the offseason retirements of managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, who are fourth and fifth on the all-time victory list and won a combined six manager of the year awards, five World Series titles and 11 pennants.
Matt Kemp, who gave the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over St. Louis on Sunday with a walkoff two-run homer in the ninth inning, opened the scoring against Hudson with a single in the first. Loney added a two-run single two batters later, after entering the game batting with a .150 average. Kemp leads the majors with a .459 average and has 13 RBIs in his first 17 games.
Former Chattanooga Lookout, Jerry Sands, the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year last season, made his major league debut in left field and was 1-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and two strikeouts. The 23-year-old batted .400 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 10 games before his contract was purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Sands hit an opposite-field double to right his first time up and heard it from the crowd of 28,292 — whose cheers quickly turned to moans when Loney was held up at third base by coach Tim Wallach.
The next time Sands came to the plate in the third, he was greeted with chants of “Jer-ry! Jer-ry!” before driving in Juan Uribe with his sac fly to right for the Dodgers’ final run. Those same chants started again when Sands came up in the sixth, and Hudson buzzed him with a first-pitch fastball that made him duck.
Lilly sent the Braves a message in the seventh when he threw a pitch behind McLouth and to the screen with two out and the bases empty. Both dugouts received a warning from plate umpire Laz Diaz, and McLouth doubled on the next pitch. Brooks Conrad then batted for Hudson and took a called third strike, stranding McLouth. Atlanta’s pinch-hitters are 0-for-25.
The Braves began a 10-game California trip with a slightly shuffled lineup. Manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Jason Hayward up into the second spot in the order and dropped McLouth from second to eighth as a result of his .212 average.
Hudson and Lilly were teammates in Oakland for half of 2002 and all of 2003. In Game 1 of the 2002 AL division series against Minnesota, Lilly inherited a 5-4 lead from Hudson in the sixth inning and surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in the Athletics’ 7-5 loss.