The Atlanta Braves were scuffling against Chris Capuano. They turned to an unlikely player for a spark.
Light-hitting Paul Janish ignited a tying rally, and kept things going in the 11th inning with his third hit of the night before pinch-hitter Juan Francisco won it with a two-out single, giving the Braves their fourth straight win, 4-3 over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.
Janish was acquired at the trade deadline merely as infield insurance, but injuries have forced him into the lineup at shortstop. Known mainly for his defensive skills, he came into the game hitting just .210.
”I actually thought I’ve been swinging the bat pretty well,” Janish said. ”It wasn’t as bad as it looks.”
Backup catcher David Ross kept the 11th going with a single, and Janish followed with another hit off Brandon League (0-1). Jamey Wright took over for the Dodgers, but Francisco punched one to left between the third baseman and the shortstop. That set off a raucous celebration near second base as Francisco playfully tried to flee from his charging teammates.
”Good teams find a way to win those kind of games,” Janish said. ”Guys are up there grinding at the plate.”
The Braves rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the eighth on Martin Prado’s run-scoring groundout and Jason Heyward’s two-out single, ruining a strong performance by Capuano. He gave up second-inning homer to Chipper Jones, his third in two nights, but totally stifled the Braves until the eighth.
”I thought I was executing my pitches and they just found a way,” Capuano said. ”They’re really putting together a great year. They’re doing the little things to push a run across when they need to and they’re pitching very well.”
The Dodgers led after Andre Ethier’s two-run homer off Tommy Hanson, and Shane Victorino added a run-scoring double in the seventh. But Los Angeles couldn’t hold the lead, another discouraging loss after slugger Matt Kemp and manager Don Mattingly were ejected the previous night in a 10-6 setback at Pittsburgh.
”It’s one of those losses that, you’re taking two runs into the eighth, you feel like you’re going to win that game,” Mattingly said. ”It’s just a frustrating game. So many decisions. Some of them work out, others don’t.”
Hanson made it to the seventh in his first start coming off the disabled list. Both he and Capuano were long gone by the time this one was decided. Jonny Venters (4-3) earned the win for Atlanta.
The Dodgers had a runner thrown out at the plate before finally breaking through against Hanson. Mark Ellis led off the sixth with a grounder down the third-base line that was generously ruled a double after deflecting off Jones’ glove, and Ethier followed with a shot into the right-field seats for his 12th homer.
Both teams wasted chances in the 10th.
Pinch-hitter Elian Herrara led off the top half with a routine grounder to second, but Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman inexplicably dropped the throw for an error. Victorino moved the runner along with a sacrifice bunt. After Mark Ellis lined out to second, Kemp was intentionally walked to bring up Ethier. He grounded one off Jones’ chest, but he recovered in time to throw out Ethier by a half-step.
Atlanta threatened when Michael Bourn singled with one out, stole second and kept on going when the throw skidded into center field. League fanned Prado, walked Heyward and got Jones on a fly ball to center.
After Jones’ home, Capuano surrendered only three hits and a walk over the next six innings, not allowing a runner past first base. But Janish and Johnson sparked the Braves, and Capuano was lifted after Bourn moved the runners along with a sacrifice bunt.
Ronald Belisario retired Prado on a run-scoring groundout and got ahead in the count on Heyward. But the Atlanta hitter came through with an opposite-field single to left, clapping his hands furiously as he rounded first before giving coach Terry Pendleton an emphatic fist bump.
Hanson went 6 2-3 innings, lifted after giving up Victorino’s RBI double on his 100th pitch.
Los Angeles had plenty of opportunities against Hanson. In the fourth, Ethier was thrown out at the plate trying to score all the way from first, Ross applying the tag after making a nice scoop on a one-hop relay throw from Janish. The next inning, the Dodgers got a runner to third with one out, but Capuano flied out to shallow left and Victorino struck out swinging, slamming his bat in frustration.
Notes: Jones’ homer snapped a streak of 13 scoreless innings for Capuano. … To make room for Hanson, the Braves optioned RHP Cory Gearrin to Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves will temporarily go with a six-man rotation to cope with a stretch of 20 straight games without an off day. … Mattingly spoke with baseball discipline chief Joe Torre before the game and expects to receive a suspension for the ejection in Pittsburgh. ”A game or two, it sounds like,” Mattingly said, though there were no immediate sanctions. ”I got a stay of execution,” the manager joked. … Braves closer Craig Kimbrel hasn’t had a save since Aug. 3, so Atlanta used him in a tie game. He struck out Hanley Ramirez on a 100 mph fastball and Matt Treanor on a 98 mph pitch. James Loney actually made contact with a Kimbrel pitch, but was so frustrated by his weak grounder that he slung his bat away, striking a screen in front of the seats near the Dodgers’ on-deck circle.