published Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Braves win in 11th on Francisco hit

Atlanta Braves' David Ross reacts as he scores the winning run on a Juan Francisco base hit in the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves' David Ross reacts as he scores the winning run on a Juan Francisco base hit in the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, in Atlanta.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — It was another frustrating night for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sparked by light-hitting Paul Janish, the Atlanta Braves rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the eighth inning, then finished off their 4-3 win in the 11th on pinch-hitter Juan Francisco’s two-out single Friday.

The previous night, Los Angeles lost 10-6 at Pittsburgh after slugger Matt Kemp and manager Don Mattingly were ejected in the early going.

This one stung, too.

“It’s one of those losses that, you’re taking two runs into the eighth, you feel like you’re going to win that game,” Mattingly said. “It’s just a frustrating game. So many decisions. Some of them work out, others don’t.”

The setback ruined a strong performance by Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, who gave up a second-inning homer to Chipper Jones — his third in two nights — but stifled the Braves until the eighth.

“I thought I was executing my pitches and they just found a way,” Capuano said. “They’re really putting together a great year. They’re doing the little things to push a run across when they need to and they’re pitching very well.”

Janish was acquired at the trade deadline merely as infield insurance, but injuries have forced him into the lineup at shortstop. Known mainly for his defensive skills, he came into the game hitting just .210.

“I actually thought I’ve been swinging the bat pretty well,” Janish said. “It wasn’t as bad as it looks.”

Backup catcher David Ross kept the 11th going with a single off Brandon League (0-1), and Janish followed with his third hit of the game. Jamey Wright took over for the Dodgers, but Francisco punched one to left between the third baseman and the shortstop. That set off a raucous celebration near second base as Francisco playfully tried to flee from his charging teammates.

“Good teams find a way to win those kind of games,” Janish said. “Guys are up there grinding at the plate.”

After Jones’ homer, Capuano surrendered only three hits and a walk over the next six innings, not allowing a runner past first base. But Janish led off the eighth with a single, pinch-hitter Reed Johnson followed with another hit, and Capuano was lifted after Michael Bourn moved the runners along with a sacrifice bunt.

Ronald Belisario retired Martin Prado on a run-scoring groundout and got ahead in the count on Jason Heyward with two out. But the Atlanta hitter came through with an opposite-field single to left, clapping his hands furiously as he rounded first before giving coach Terry Pendleton an emphatic fist bump.

The Dodgers led after Andre Ethier’s two-run homer in the sixth off Tommy Hanson, and Shane Victorino added a run-scoring double in the seventh. Hanson went 6 2-3 innings, throwing 100 pitches in his first start coming off the disabled list. Both he and Capuano were long gone by the time this one was decided. Jonny Venters (4-3) earned the win for Atlanta.

The Dodgers had a runner thrown out at the plate before finally breaking through against Hanson. Mark Ellis led off the sixth with a grounder down the third-base line that was generously ruled a double after deflecting off Jones’ glove, and Ethier followed with a shot into the right-field seats for his 12th homer.

Both teams wasted chances in the 10th.

Pinch-hitter Elian Herrara led off the top half with a routine grounder to second, but Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman inexplicably dropped the throw for an error. Victorino moved the runner along with a sacrifice bunt. After Mark Ellis lined out to second, Kemp was intentionally walked to bring up Ethier. He grounded one off Jones’ chest, but he recovered in time to throw out Ethier by a half-step.

Atlanta threatened when Bourn singled with one out, stole second and kept on going when the throw skidded into center field. League fanned Prado, walked Heyward and got Jones on a fly ball to center.

Los Angeles also had plenty of opportunities against Hanson. In the fourth, Ethier was thrown out at the plate trying to score all the way from first, Ross applying the tag after making a nice scoop on a one-hop relay throw from Janish. The next inning, the Dodgers got a runner to third with one out before Capuano flied out to shallow left and Victorino struck out swinging, slamming his bat in frustration.

To make room for Hanson, the Braves optioned relief pitcher Cory Gearrin (from Rhea County) to Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves will temporarily go with a six-man rotation to cope with a stretch of 20 straight games without an off day.

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