Braves 9, Dodgers 3
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Tommy Hanson turned around his sluggish start quickly enough to keep the Atlanta Braves - and himself - in the game.
It helps to have a batterymate who has a reputation for driving in runs.
Brian McCann hit a two-run double during a seven-run seventh and added a two-run single in the eighth, leading the Braves to a 9-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night. The four-time All-Star has 388 RBIs as a catcher since the start of the 2006 season, more than any other player at his position during that stretch.
``It's been a long time coming for me to help this team out offensively,'' said McCann, who has 22 RBIs this season. ``I've been missing pitches all season long, and it's been frustrating. I'm hoping now I can get something going and be a presence in the middle of the order. It was nice to get a big hit tonight and keep this thing rolling.''
Omar Infante drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single that kick-started the pivotal rally, which Troy Glaus capped with a two-run homer - his fifth in seven games. The victory was the 15th in 18 games for the Braves, who maintained their two-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East.
``Our lineup, one through eight, can really hurt you, and everybody's putting up consistently good ABs,'' McCann said. ``When we're doing that, there's no easy outs in our lineup.''
Hanson (6-3) won his third straight start, allowing two runs and eight hits over six innings and striking out six. The right-hander, who gave up fewer than three runs for the ninth time in his 12 starts, was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh after trailing 2-0 against Chad Billingsley (6-3).
``The first couple of innings, the ball didn't feel very good coming out of my hand. But once I settled in, everything started to feel a lot better,'' Hanson said. ``I think I'm just a little too pumped up when the game starts and I'm trying to overthrow. (Pitching coach Roger McDowell) said maybe next time I should run a marathon before I go out there and pitch.''
Yunel Escobar, who had only 14 hits in 48 at-bats against the Dodgers entering this four-game set, led off the seventh with a single for his seventh hit of the series. Nate McLouth followed with a bloop single and Brooks Conrad, batting for Hanson, chased Billingsley with an RBI single that drove in the Braves' first run.
Martin Prado's sacrifice bunt put two men in scoring position for Infante, who singled on Ramon Troncoso's 1-0 pitch. McCann followed a walk to Jason Heyward with his double to left field against Troncoso. Glaus drove Ronald Belisario's 3-2 pitch to left-center for his 11th homer, and fifth in seven games.
The seven-run inning equaled the Braves' biggest of the season, and snapped a 22 2-3 inning scoreless streak by the Dodgers' bullpen.
It was the second straight night in which Dodgers manager Joe Torre removed his starting pitcher in the seventh with a lead, only to see his replacement give it up. On Friday night, Clayton Kershaw handed a 4-2 lead to Hong-Chih Kuo, who surrendered a two-run double by Escobar before Los Angeles pulled out a 5-4 win that ended Atlanta's nine-game winning streak.
``You'd like to think good things are going to happen every time you pick up the (bullpen) phone. But unfortunately, the roof caved in tonight,'' Torre said. ``This is a little bit of a surprise - Troncoso coming in and not being able to do the job.''
Billingsley was charged with three runs and seven hits over six-plus innings against a lineup that came in with a league-best .347 on-base percentage - but was missing third baseman Chipper Jones for the third straight game because of an injured right ring finger.
One of Los Angeles' runs came on Billingsley's RBI double in the second. It was the first extra-base hit by any Dodgers pitcher since Aug. 21, 2009, when Randy Wolf doubled home both runs in a 2-1 victory over Randy Wells and the Chicago Cubs.
NOTES: A moment of silence was observed for former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who died on Saturday at age 99. Hall of Fame Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully recalled his first meeting with Wooden in 1958, which happened by accident. ``We lived in a little two-story apartment house on a corner in Brentwood, just off Sunset Boulevard, and there was a little wooden fence there,'' Scully told The Associated Press. ``One day, I went to the grocery store, and I was coming back to the apartment with two big bags of groceries. And as I'm walking to that little fence, I'm thinking, 'How the heck am I going to open that gate?' And a voice said: 'Just a minute. I'll open that gate for you.' And this man came over, opened the gate and held it open. I said: 'Thanks so very much,' and he said, 'I'm John Wooden. I'm the basketball coach at UCLA.''' ... Torre came much closer to winning the Belmont Stakes as a co-owner than he did in the Kentucky Derby. Game On Dude, a 17-1 shot, finished fourth in a field of 12 and was less than 2 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Drosselmeyer. Five weeks ago at Churchill Downs, 25-1 shot Homeboykris was 16th in a muddy field of 20.