Three Cuts: Braves drop first game of long West Coast swing

A Freddie Freeman blast in the third inning gave the Braves the lead early, but there were too many Los Angeles bats, hitting too many base hits for Atlanta to hold on.

A Freddie Freeman blast in the third inning gave the Braves the lead early, but there were too many Los Angeles bats, hitting too many base hits for Atlanta to hold on. The Dodgers won Game 1 of the series, 8-4.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Images

The Atlanta Braves got a gutsy performance from starter Aaron Harang, and at two different times in the early innings had a small lead. Starting in the fifth inning, the Los Angeles Dodgers scored six unanswered runs, and took advantage of Atlanta's bullpen, eventually winning 8-4.

Here are three observations from Atlanta's loss on Tuesday night, in the Braves' first game of an eight-game road trip on the West Coast:

1. YASIEL PUIG VS. FREDDIE FREEMAN -- THE BRAVE BEFUDDLER OUTPUNCHED THE DODGER KILLER

When it comes to teams each hitter loves to face, Puig sure smiles when the Braves are in town, and Freeman has an affinity for Dodger Stadium, or at least he plays that way.

In 12 regular-season games at Dodger Stadium, Freeman is 17 for 47 (.361) with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. Those numbers include his 2-for-4 night on Tuesday, with a bomb and two RBI.

There are only four venues where Freeman hits better, but just one with a large enough sample size to call it a favorable stadium. The Braves first baseman is 5 for 9 (.556) in two games at the Rogers Center in Toronto, 3 for 7 (.429) in three games at US Cellular, home of the Chicago White Sox, 20 for 50 (.400) in 12 games at Chase Field in Arizona and 4 for 11 (.364) in three games at Safeco Field in Seattle.

In five games versus the Braves, Puig has two home runs and five RBI, and has 12 hits in 21 at-bats (.571). With a single, double and triple in his first three plate appearances, Puig singled in the seventh inning and missed the natural cycle.

Even though Freeman went yard, Puig's night was statistically better, and Puig was a terror on the basepaths all night.

Score this skirmish to the Dodgers youngster, but the battles between Freeman and Puig for many years to come, should be exciting to watch.

2. THE USUALLY SOLID, LATELY MAGNIFICENT, ANTHONY VARVARO HAD A NIGHT TO FORGET

With the game tied at four, Braves starter Aaron Harang fought his way through the sixth inning before handing the ball to the righty reliever Varvaro. That's usally a safe strategy for Atlanta.

In 40 1/3 innings of work this season, headed into Tuesday's game, Varvaro had a 2.23 ERA and had only given up 10 earned runs and two homers. Over the last six weeks, Varvaro had appeared in 17 games and posted a chest-pumping 1.04 ERA.

The Dodgers couldn't have cared less about the hot streak, and roughed up Varvaro pretty handily.

After giving up consecutive singles to Puig and Adrian Gonzalez to start the seventh, Varvaro struck out Hanley Ramirez, and induced a ground-ball out from Carl Crawford. Matt Kemp then blasted his second home run of the game.

Varvaro gave up a double after Kemp's home run, before getting out of the inning. But the three earned runs given up were the most in any inning this season for the Braves reliever.

There have only been four times, in 136 games with the Braves, where Varvaro had matched the three runs allowed plateau, or allowed more. Two times last season--the San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati Reds--Varvaro gave up three earned runs in an inning. Once, against the New York Mets, he gave up four earned runs, the worst outing of his career.

There was also another outing in 2012 against the Giants where Varvaro allowed three earned runs to cross the plate.

Tuesday's outing pushed Varvaro's ERA up to 2.83.

3. TOMMY LA STELLA PROVES HE'LL GIVE THE BRAVES A MULTI-HIT GAME PRETTY REGULARLY

It's starting to feel like old hat. La Stella produced another multi-hit game on Tuesday against the Dodgers.

When La Stella went 3 for 4 in his latest game, he notched his 18th multi-hit game this season. And remember, the rookie wasn't called up until May 28.

La Stella has played in 55 games this season, but only started 53. That means for approximately every three games he starts, he's producing a multi-hit game. That's an incredibly potent start to a big-league career.

3A. HATS OFF TO VIN SCULLY

Early in the broadcast of the game, the Dodgers announced to the crowd that Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully would return to call games for the Dodgers for the 2015 season.

The crowd gave that news, and Scully, a standing ovation.

It's rare that something besides a big-time hit, or strikeout, can send a crowd of 49,630 to its feet. It's even rarer when it happens for someone not on the field of play.

But Scully is masterful behind the microphone, and the news that he's returning for his 66th season was worth every second of the ovation--probably more.