|Atlanta (58-54) «||0||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||5||8||10||0|
|L.A. Dodgers (67-45)||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||8||0|
LOS ANGELES -- The Atlanta Braves left Dodger Stadium with a triple infusion of confidence for the stretch drive.
Javier Vazquez won his fifth consecutive decision with eight solid innings, and the resurgent Braves beat the NL West-leading Dodgers 8-2 on Sunday to take three of the four games in their weekend series. They have won five of their last six overall, and are four games over .500 (58-54) for the first time since they were 5-1 on April 12.
"We've never lost faith all year," said right fielder Matt Diaz, who had a home run and RBI single and helped set up another run with a bunt hit. "We haven't really been scoreboard watching, but we know that if we take care of business and finish enough games above 500, we have a great shot to make the playoffs. And with our pitching staff, we think we can make that happen."
Vazquez (10-7) reached double digits in wins for the 10th consecutive season, handing the Dodgers their 10th loss in 15 games.
"You can call it a rut," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "We're not playing our best baseball, but every team goes through stretches like this. We're a little tired of losing, but good teams bounce back -- and I consider our team a good team. Their starters just pitched tremendously in this series and just kept the ball off our barrels. It was a tough series for us, but we'll bounce back."
Vazquez yielded a run and five hits, struck out seven and walked two. The right-hander has a 2.49 ERA over his last six outings and has pitched at least seven innings in each of them.
"It was a great win. We're playing great baseball right now," Vazquez said. "We took a frustrating loss in that first game, but to come back against probably the best team in the National League right now and best them three times is a great feeling for us."
The Dodgers, who won the series opener 5-4 on Andre Ethier's walk-off, three-run homer in the ninth inning, lost the season series 4-3. The defeat left them 5½ games ahead of the second-place Giants, heading into a three-game set at San Francisco that begins Monday night.
It will be the first meeting between the storied rivals since May 10 at Los Angeles, when Casey Blake hit a tying 12th-inning homer off Brian Wilson -- and then was caught on camera in the dugout making a gesture in the dugout mocking Wilson's crossed-arm, finger-pointing gesture the Giants closer makes after each successful save.
"The Giants are the club right behind us, and these are the people we have to beat to win our division. So it's important, no question," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "They're a real good team, and we knew that from the get-go because of their starting pitching. I am looking forward to it, but it's more about us than the Giants. We've been a little erratic as far as scoring runs, and we've had some good outings and not-so good outings from our pitchers."
Left-hander Eric Stults (4-3) surrendered up three runs and five hits over five innings after being recalled from Triple-A to fill in for the injured Jason Schmidt, who is on the disabled list with shoulder problems.
Stults, whose previous start for the Dodgers was on May 30 in a 7-0 loss at Chicago, threw 51 pitches before he was lifted for a pinch hitter. He was pitching on two days' rest after a three-inning stint on Thursday with Albuquerque.
"It's been frustrating here the last couple of days because we've had opportunities to win games and didn't do it," Torre said. "But as the mental state of this club, we're fine. I'm the only one that panics around here, trust me."
|Javier Vazquez surrenders just one run, lowering his ERA to 2.49 over the last six outings. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
Braves Customized Locker Room Black Framed Photo
$49.95 Shop Now!
|Ryan Church, CF||5||1||1||1||0||0||2||.280|
|Martin Prado, 3B||5||0||2||3||0||1||1||.312|
|Garret Anderson, LF||5||0||0||0||0||2||3||.284|
|Yunel Escobar, SS||3||2||1||0||1||1||0||.306|
|Brian McCann, C||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||.287|
|Matt Diaz, RF||4||2||3||2||0||0||0||.292|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||3||0||0||1||0||0||0||.256|
|Kelly Johnson, 2B||3||2||1||0||1||1||1||.227|
|Javier Vazquez, P||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.156|
|a- Greg Norton, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.138|
|Manny Acosta, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Peter Moylan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-flied out for Vazquez in the 9th|
|2B - Ryan Church (19, Mota), Brian McCann (28, Troncoso)|
|HR - Matt Diaz (6, Stults)|
|SF - Adam LaRoche (4)|
|SH - Javier Vazquez (13)|
|RBI - Ryan Church (31), Martin Prado 3 (35), Matt Diaz 2 (31), Adam LaRoche (47)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ryan Church (17), Martin Prado 3 (15), Matt Diaz (13)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Escobar-McCann, Johnson-Escobar-LaRoche, Escobar-Johnson-LaRoche|
|Javier Vazquez (W,10-7)||8||5||1||1||2||7||0||2.90|
|HBP - Martin (by Manny Acosta)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Javier Vazquez 113-73, Manny Acosta 16-8, Peter Moylan 5-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Javier Vazquez 5-10, Manny Acosta 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Javier Vazquez 29, Manny Acosta 5, Peter Moylan 1|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.263|
|Andre Ethier, RF||4||1||1||0||0||2||1||.272|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||4||1||3||0||0||1||0||.310|
|Casey Blake, 3B||2||0||1||1||1||0||1||.292|
|Matt Kemp, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.315|
|Russell Martin, C||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.271|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||0||2||.294|
|Mark Loretta, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.230|
|Eric Stults, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.067|
|a- Juan Pierre, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.314|
|Jeff Weaver, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.300|
|b- James Loney, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.282|
|Ramon Troncoso, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Guillermo Mota, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.500|
|a-grounded out for Stults in the 5th|
|b-struck out for Weaver in the 8th|
|2B - Manny Ramirez (17, Vazquez), Orlando Hudson (29, Vazquez)|
|SF - Casey Blake (9)|
|RBI - Casey Blake (65)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Furcal-Loretta|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Eric Stults (L,4-3)||5||5||3||3||1||3||1||4.86|
|HBP - McCann (by Eric Stults)|
|WP - Eric Stults (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Eric Stults 71-48, Jeff Weaver 25-20, Ramon Troncoso 17-9, Guillermo Mota 12-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Eric Stults 7-4, Jeff Weaver 3-4|
|Batters Faced - Eric Stults 21, Jeff Weaver 9, Ramon Troncoso 5, Guillermo Mota 4|
|Attendance - 45438|
|Game Time - 2:53|
|Temperature - 79|
|Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Laz Diaz, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Mike Reilly|