ATLANTA — Nobody beats the Atlanta Braves six straight times in the same season.
At least not the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After losing 11 of their last 13 games -- including the first five meetings of the season against the Dodgers -- the Braves prevailed 3-2 on Wednesday night at Turner Field.
With its own fans often struggling to out-shout Dodger Blue among the crowd of 33,299, Atlanta got some superb pitching from Ervin Santana (12-6) and timely hitting from Andrelton Simmons (two RBIs) and Justin Upton (RBI) to remain five games behind Washington in the National League East, as well as remaining above .500 for the season (61-59).
Not that such a thing looked possible in the early going.
With LA's Jeff Kemp doubling to start the second before being driven home by Carl Crawford, who then scored on a Miguel Rojas single, the Dodgers grabbed a 2-0 lead off Santana, a scenario that has most often resulted in defeat the last two weeks.
But this time the Braves fought back. And quickly. Evan Gattis doubled, then was sacrificed to third on a bunt from Chris Johnson. Gattis then came home, thanks to Simmons's bat to pull the home team within 2-1 after two.
Atlanta tied it in the fourth on a Justin Upton walk, Johnson single and Simmons single to bring home Upton.
Then came the pivotal fifth inning, when Jason Heyward -- who is batting .342 since returning to the starting lineup on Aug. 2 -- singled with one out, then came home on a Justin Upton single.
Now ahead 3-2, the Braves watched relievers David Carpenter and Jordan Walden keep the Dodgers scoreless in the seventh and eighth to set the stage for closer Craig Kimbrel to turn out the lights on LA in the ninth.
Having earned saves in 34 of his 38 opportunities this year heading into the ninth, the Huntsville, Ala., native didn't disappoint, despite allowing the first two Dodgers to reach base.
Instead, with two aboard and none out, Kimbrel went one-on-one with Dodger slugger Yasiel Puig and masterfully K'd the Cuban for out No. 1. Then, after a single by Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases, Kimbrel induced Matt Kemp to ground into a game-ending double-play that brought a standing ovation from the crowd.
The Braves will attempt to make it two in a row against LA today at 10 minutes after noon.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at email@example.com.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...