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Dodgers-Braves: LA Offense Wakes Up for 19 Hits in 9-1 Rout of Atlanta

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Dodgers-Braves: LA Offense Wakes Up for 19 Hits in 9-1 Rout of Atlanta

The Los Angeles Dodgers took the final game of a three-game set against the Atlanta Braves by a score of 9-1.

Torre juggled his lineup a bit, moving James Loney into the cleanup spot and Matt Kemp to fifth. Casey Blake reportedly jammed his wrist during a workout following the game last night, which gave Mark Loretta the start and the seventh spot in the order in front of Orlando Hudson.

Apparently the mix-up straightened out a lineup that had been struggling to drive in runners on base. Kemp went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBI to highlight the 19-hit outburst. The five RBI ties a career high for the 24-year old center-fielder. 

And Loney added a 3-for-5 day. Andre Ethier, who has been on fire for the past 20 games, also chipped in with three hits of his own in a 3-for-4 effort.

Every starting position player notched a base hit on the night and six Dodgers recorded multi-hit games despite leaving 10 men on base.

Chad Billingsley toed the rubber for the Boys in Blue on the ESPN Sunday night game of the week as the Dodgers (65-40) broke out of what had been an offensive funk during their road trip at the expense of the home town Braves (53-52).

Billingsley worked five innings and struck out nine hitters while walking only one in an impressive outing. He gave up just two hits in the scoreless outing before leaving due to an injury.

He appeared to hyper-extend his left knee when he planted it on a delivery and Chad aggressively lobbied to stay in the game between innings. Joe Torre wasn’t going to allow his young star to risk further injuring the leg so he kept him from returning to the mound.

The Dodgers used a four-run fifth inning to break open a scoreless tie, but were unable to push runs across early in the game.

Loney and Kemp led off the fourth with back-to-back singles but the Dodgers offense was unable to capitalize on the opportunity against Braves’ starter Jair Jurrjens.

Russell Martin flew out and Loretta lined out to second before Hudson drew a walk. Hudson was nearly called out on strikes after a check swing was appealed to third base umpire Tom Hallion, but he decided that Hudson didn’t go around which opened the door for the walk.

Unfortunately, that brought the pitcher Billingsley to the plate with the bases loaded, and he fanned to strand all three runners on board.

The next inning, Los Angeles strung together five consecutive two outs base hits to jump out on top of the Braves.

Kemp smashed a 0-2 fastball over the 400’ sign in dead centerfield and the three-run homer broke a scoreless tie and gave the visiting Dodgers a 3-0 lead. After a Martin double, Loretta stroked an RBI single on a high changeup from Jurrjens to plate another run and make it a 4-0 game.

When Billingsley had to come out of the game, he was due up to leadoff the sixth inning. Due to Blake’s injury last night, Torre turned to Jason Schmidt to pinch-hit in order to save his bench for later innings. Schmidt singled to centerfield, and scored on an RBI double to right field by Loney, which opened the margin to 5-0.

Los Angeles would tack on three more runs or good measure in the eighth behind a Loney RBI groundout and a Kemp two-RBI single; they scored the final run in the ninth on an RBI double from Hudson.

Scott Elbert worked 2.2 innings of relief and did a great job of eating some innings after the injury removed Billingsley and also shutting down the Braves while doing so. He allowed just one hit and one walk and threw only 37 pitches on the night. Elbert gave up one run, which scored after he exited and Guillermo Mota gave up an RBI single.

The eighth proved to be a classic example of Torre overworking the bullpen. While Elbert was due to come out, he went to Mota for just one hitter. Mota gave up the single, and Torre pulled a double-switch that brought Juan Pierre into left field and newly acquired George Sherrill into the game.

Torre was playing the lefty/righty game by using Mota against the right-handed Martin Prado, and then removing him for the switch-hitting Chipper Jones. If he was intending on bringing in Sherill to face Jones, who would hit right-handed against him anyway, then why burn Mota’s arm for one batter against Prado?

Sherrill got Jones to lineout to right center field, but there was no need to use three pitchers in the inning. It’s little things like this in a blowout game that have caused the Dodgers’ bullpen to become terribly overworked by the beginning of August.

As if that wasn't enough, Torre brought out Ramon Troncoso when the lead had been extended to 9-1 and the game was well in-hand. That means Torre used four pitchers to record the final four outs of a blowout game.

Tomorrow night, the Dodgers return home after a seven-game road trip for a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers. Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.76) will face Manny Parra (5-8, 6.50) in Monday’s opener.

 

 

 

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WP: Billingsley (11-6)

LP: Jurrjens (9-8)

 

PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers

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