Dodgers hold off struggling Braves, 6-4

Dodgers hold off struggling Braves, 6-4

August 15th, 2014 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

Los Angeles Dodgers' Dee Gordon (9) steals second base as Atlanta Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella (7) applies the late tag in their baseball game Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Atlanta.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

ATLANTA - Despite hitting only .229 in the Los Angeles Dodgers' first 12 games in August, Dee Gordon remained confident in his approach as he refused to make changes that might lead to bad habits.

Gordon's self-confidence paid off Thursday, as he had three hits and scored four runs to lead the Dodgers past the slumping Atlanta Braves, 6-4.

Gordon, hitting .291 overall, also stole two bases, increasing his total to 54, the most in the major leagues.

"Dee Gordon beat us," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's probably your most traditional leadoff hitter I've seen in a long time."

Gordon had plenty of help. Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez, who followed Gordon in the batting order, each also had three hits. Gonzalez drove in three runs.

"When your guys up top get on, it just changes the game," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who said Gordon "was setting the tone, getting on and stealing bases."

Drew Butera hit a two-run homer, his first in almost three months, in the second inning for the National League West-leading Dodgers, who won three of four games in the series.

The Braves, who began the day five games behind first-place Washington in the NL East, have lost 12 of 14.

"We've still got 41 games left," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who had three hits, including a double in the three-run eighth and another double in the ninth that put the tying runs in scoring position. "We can still make something of this if we keep grinding."

Kenley Jansen struck out B.J. Upton with runners on third and second to end the game.

Roberto Hernandez (7-8), making his second start for the Dodgers since his trade from the Phillies on Aug. 7, allowed one run on three hits and four walks in six innings.

Butera's second-inning homer off Aaron Harang (9-7) was only his third of the season and his first since May 16.

The Braves trailed 5-1 before Justin Upton's two-run double off Brian Wilson in the eighth. Andrelton Simmons' single off Jansen cut the Dodgers' lead to one run.

Jansen struck out pinch-hitter Evan Gattis to end the eighth but ran into trouble in the ninth. After giving up a one-out infield single to Jason Heyward, Jansen struck out Emilio Bonifacio. Freeman doubled, moving Heyward to third. Jansen wrapped up his 34th save on Upton's swinging strikeout.

Harang had his worst start in two months, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. He hadn't allowed as many runs since he was charged with nine runs, eight earned, in a 10-5 loss to Philadelphia on June 18.

Atlanta left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, recalled from Class AAA Gwinnett, gave up one run on two hits and a walk in the ninth. He said he focused on his curveball and changeup at Gwinnett. The team optioned right-hander Juan Jaime to Gwinnett following Wednesday night's win.

After advancing with a slide into third base after his double in the eighth, Justin Upton left Thursday's game with a mild left hamstring strain. The Braves said his status is day-to-day.

Mattingly said pitcher Josh Beckett won't come off the 15-day disabled list when eligible on Tuesday. Beckett, who has a left hip impingement, will have more tests and Mattingly said surgery "is a possibility." Mattingly also said left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu may have an MRI after leaving Wednesday night's game with a right gluteus muscle strain.