ATLANTA (AP) — Kenley Jansen insisted he made the pitch he wanted to Evan Gattis, even though it landed over the left-field wall.
Jansen was unable to hold an eighth-inning lead, as he gave up back-to-back homers by Gattis and Andrelton Simmons in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
Chris Capuano led 1-0 before he allowed a one-out single to B.J. Upton in the eighth. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly brought in Jansen (1-2), the hard-throwing right-hander, to face Gattis even though Capuano had allowed only five hits and thrown only 91 pitches.
“I’m not going to let him lose that game,” Mattingly said of Capuano.
Capuano said he told Mattingly after his at-bat in the top of the eighth to be prepared to pull him out of the game because he had lingering problems with a strained calf.
“It wasn’t affecting pitch execution out there,” Capuano said. “It just feels a little tired. I’ve got an extra day before the next start. With treatment and stuff we should be able to get that ready.”
While Jansen was warming up, Gattis and Simmons listed to advice from teammate Justin Upton, who frequently faced Jansen while with Arizona.
Gattis said Upton’s advice was to avoid Jansen’s cutters that appeared to be bound for the middle of the plate, because they would break off the plate. Gattis said Upton’s instruction was to wait on a pitch “starting at you, or it looks like it’s starting at you. That’s going to be the one that you want.”
Gattis fouled off two cutters before hitting the line-drive homer.
Jansen (1-2) said Gattis “just hit a good pitch.”
“What could I do?” Jansen asked. “I’m not going to let that bother me. Tip your hat. He hit a good pitch.
“You’ve got to go in there. Period. He’s creeping up on home plate every time I’m throwing outside. I put it where I wanted to put it.”
Gattis has eight homers and ranks third in the majors with six game-winning RBIs.
“Awesome,” Simmons said of Gattis. “He’s awesome. Just amazing. That’s all you can say. Pretty much you saw it coming, but just seeing it is awesome. He’s a great hitter. He’s always ready to go and he’s fun to watch.”
Kris Medlen, Cory Gearrin, and Craig Kimbrel combined on a two-hitter for Atlanta.
“It was pretty much two guys basically beating up on the hitters until we got to the eighth inning,” said Mattingly, referring to the strong starts by Capuano and Medlen.
“(Capuano) has been really good. Today he gets his chance to win; we weren’t able to close it out for him. But also, we didn’t give ourselves a whole lot of breathing room, either. It was one of those games.”
Gearrin (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of Medlen, who gave up two hits and one unearned run in seven innings. Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save.
The Dodgers have lost two straight to the Braves after winning four of five.
“If we were able to close this one out, then we’ve got a chance to come back tomorrow and win the series,” Mattingly said. “And now we’ve got to basically get up in the morning and salvage a series by putting a win on the board somehow.”
The Dodgers scored their only run in the fourth. Adrian Gonzalez walked and scored on Skip Schumaker’s double to the left-field corner and left fielder Justin Upton’s fielding error. Schumaker wasn’t given an RBI.
The only other hit allowed by Medlen was a second-inning single by Tim Federowicz.
Chris Johnson had three hits for the Braves, who won after finding themselves in a sudden bullpen crisis.
Before the game, Braves general manager Frank Wren said an MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in Eric O’Flaherty’s left elbow. O’Flaherty was placed on the disabled list and could face season-ending surgery.
On Thursday, left-hander Jonny Venters had Tommy John surgery for the second time, ending his season. On Friday, right-hander Jordan Walden was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of shoulder inflammation.
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp leaped and reached over the wall to take a home run away from Jason Heyward in the first inning. Heyward took off his helmet while crossing second base. Just when it appeared he might toss the headgear in disgust, Heyward instead lifted the helmet toward Kemp in a gesture of respect.
NOTES: The Braves called up RHP Cory Rasmus from Triple-A Gwinnett to take O’Flaherty’s roster spot. Rasmus, 25, is the younger brother of Toronto OF Colby Rasmus. … Medlen lowered his ERA to 3.02. … Dodgers 2B Mark Ellis, on the disabled list because of a strained right quad, will join the team in Atlanta on Sunday and fly with the team to Milwaukee. .. Mattingly said LHP Ted Lilly (strained right rib cage) will come off the DL soon, but not necessarily to start. … The series ends Sunday with Braves LHP Mike Minor (5-2) facing Dodgers RHP Matt Magill (0-0).