|L.A. Dodgers «||0||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||3||6||12||2|
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves are a first-place team. It's not so obvious from the look of their bullpen.
Shaky closer Chris Reitsma blew another save -- his third in the last eight games -- as the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for a three-run ninth to beat the Braves 6-4 Tuesday night.
Olmedo Saenz drove in two runs with a pinch-hit single off Reitsma, who didn't get an out. Oscar Robles added an RBI single off John Foster; that run also charged to Reitsma.
"I just wasn't good tonight," said Reitsma, whose ERA rose from 3.56 to 4.04. "I didn't have any command of my changeup and breaking ball. It kind of snowballed on me."
With the Dodgers down 4-3, Jason Werth hit Reitsma's first pitch off the wall for a double, and moved to third when Hee-Seop Choi slapped a single to left. Ricky Ledee walked to load the bases.
Saenz, who has 53 starts this season, came up as a pinch hitter -- a good choice considering his .368 average with runners in scoring position. He came through with a single to left, bringing home the tying and go-ahead runs.
"If I got something in the strike zone, I wanted to be aggressive and hit it hard," Saenz said. "I wasn't really trying to do anything else."
Reitsma (3-4) has blown seven of 22 save chances, exposing perhaps the biggest weakness for the NL-East leading Braves. Dan Kolb started the season as the closer but lost the job to Reitsma, who now appears to be trying to give it back.
"It stings a little bit," said Chipper Jones, one of three Atlanta players who hit solo homers. "You can't keep losing games like this down the stretch. The other teams in our division are playing some pretty good baseball."
For the second time in a row, Reitsma's woes in the ninth cost John Smoltz his 13th win.
"I love John to death," Reitsma said. "I hate it when this happens more than anybody in the world."
Smoltz was the Braves' closer the last three seasons, so he knows how difficult it is to get those last three outs.
"It's a role with a huge magnifying glass," Smoltz said. "We're fine. It'll turn."
Giovanni Carrara (7-4) picked up the win and Duaner Sanchez worked a perfect ninth for his first career save.
Jones, Brian McCann and Rafael Furcal homered off Derek Lowe in the first two innings. The Dodgers starter didn't give up anything else until the seventh.
"It was disconcerting, since I'm a ground-ball pitcher," Lowe said. "At least they were solos."
With the score tied at 3-all, Braves pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson started the seventh with a grounder off the glove of second baseman Jeff Kent, who managed to flip the ball to first just as Johnson was hitting the bag.
Umpire Larry Poncino called Johnson safe and the Dodgers protested, still upset over a similar play the previous inning that didn't go their way. Lowe argued briefly before manager Jim Tracy turned up the heat, getting ejected by Poncino.
Johnson moved up on a sacrifice bunt and scored an unearned run on Marcus Giles' single to right, just beating Werth's strong throw to the plate.
Smoltz gave up seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings. He also received a break in the sixth.
Werth singled with two outs, stole second and took third on a passed ball. Choi hit a grounder that ricocheted off the glove of first baseman Adam LaRoche, but Giles grabbed it moving over from second and flipped to Smoltz covering.
Choi waved his arms as he crossed the bag, indicating he was safe, but Poncino called him out to end the inning and deny the Dodgers a run. Television replays showed Choi's foot clearly beat the ball.
"Both plays were close," Tracy said. "It was a run we didn't get and a run they did get. But you don't point fingers."
Kent had an RBI single in the third and wound up scoring an unearned run on Jeff Francoeur's errant throw from right field.
"You have to give our guys credit coming back like that," said Lowe, allowed six hits and three earned runs in seven innings. "We need a stretch like this to get us back in the running."
The Dodgers are only five games behind San Diego in the NL West, despite being 10 games under .500.
"It's starting to feel like last year," said Werth, referring to the Dodgers' run to the NL West championship. "Things are starting to look better for us."
Francoeur stole the first base of his young career. ... Smoltz had six strikeouts to move past Tim Keefe for 25th on the career list with 2,534. Jerry Koosman is next at 2,556. ... Kyle Farnsworth pitched a scoreless eighth for Atlanta in his first appearance since serving a five-game suspension. ... The Dodgers are 5-55 when trailing after the eighth inning.
|Players of the Game|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Cesar Izturis, SS||4||1||2||0||1||0||0||.267|
|Oscar Robles, 3B||5||0||2||1||0||0||2||.286|
|Milton Bradley, CF||5||0||0||0||0||3||6||.281|
|Jeff Kent, 2B||5||1||1||1||0||0||3||.292|
|Jose Valentin, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.176|
|Duaner Sanchez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jayson Werth, RF-LF||4||2||3||0||0||1||1||.245|
|Hee Seop Choi, 1B||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.252|
|Jason Repko, PR-RF||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.228|
|Dioner Navarro, C||3||0||0||1||0||0||0||.255|
|a- Ricky Ledee, PH||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.296|
|Jason Phillips, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.241|
|Derek Lowe, P||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.146|
|Giovanni Carrara, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Olmedo Saenz, PH-1B||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||.291|
|a-walked for Navarro in the 9th|
|b-singled for Carrara in the 9th|
|2B - Cesar Izturis (18, Smoltz), Oscar Robles (10, Farnsworth), Jayson Werth (15, Reitsma)|
|RBI - Oscar Robles (14), Jeff Kent (81), Dioner Navarro (3), Olmedo Saenz 2 (53)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jeff Kent (25)|
|SB - Cesar Izturis (8, 2nd base off Smoltz/McCann), Jayson Werth (6, 2nd base off Smoltz/McCann)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Izturis-Kent-Choi, Lowe-Izturis-Choi|
|PB - Dioner Navarro (2)|
|E - Cesar Izturis (11, misplayed grounder), Jeff Kent (17, misplayed grounder)|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Giovanni Carrara (W,7-4)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||4.70|
|Duaner Sanchez (S,1)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.80|
|HBP - Francoeur (by Derek Lowe)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Derek Lowe 120-68, Giovanni Carrara 11-8, Duaner Sanchez 15-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Derek Lowe 14-2, Giovanni Carrara 1-0, Duaner Sanchez 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Derek Lowe 31, Giovanni Carrara 3, Duaner Sanchez 3|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||4||1||1||1||0||0||0||.270|
|Marcus Giles, 2B||4||0||2||1||0||1||0||.309|
|Chipper Jones, 3B||2||1||1||1||2||0||1||.307|
|Andruw Jones, CF||3||0||0||0||1||1||3||.276|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.255|
|Jeff Francoeur, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||.371|
|Ryan Langerhans, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.251|
|Brian McCann, C||4||1||1||1||0||0||2||.267|
|John Smoltz, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||1||.148|
|a- Kelly Johnson, PH||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||.231|
|Kyle Farnsworth, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chris Reitsma, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|John Foster, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Dan Kolb, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Julio Franco, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.291|
|a-grounded out for Smoltz in the 7th|
|b-grounded out for Kolb in the 9th|
|2B - Marcus Giles (35, Lowe)|
|HR - Rafael Furcal (10, Lowe), Chipper Jones (11, Lowe), Brian McCann (4, Lowe)|
|SH - Rafael Furcal (4)|
|RBI - Rafael Furcal (41), Marcus Giles (45), Chipper Jones (42), Brian McCann (11)|
|2-OUT RBI - Rafael Furcal (15), Chipper Jones (14)|
|SB - Marcus Giles (14, 3rd base off Lowe/Navarro), Jeff Francoeur (1, 2nd base off Lowe/Navarro)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Furcal-LaRoche|
|PB - Brian McCann (4)|
|E - Jeff Francoeur (1, wild throw)|
|Kyle Farnsworth (H,18)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||2.47|
|Chris Reitsma (BS,7; L,3-4)||0||3||3||3||2||0||0||4.04|
|IBB - Izturis by Chris Reitsma|
|Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 98-71, Kyle Farnsworth 20-16, Chris Reitsma 17-6, John Foster 3-3, Dan Kolb 4-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 13-2, Kyle Farnsworth 1-2, Dan Kolb 2-0|
|Batters Faced - John Smoltz 28, Kyle Farnsworth 4, Chris Reitsma 5, John Foster 1, Dan Kolb 2|
|Attendance - 24692|
|Game Time - 2:49|
|Temperature - 80|
|Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Larry Poncino, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Mark Wegner|