Braves-Dodgers Preview

The Los Angeles Dodgers flexed their muscles as they showed over the weekend why they are considered major contenders.

The visiting Atlanta Braves are well aware of the postseason threat posed by the NL West leaders.

These teams meet Tuesday night for the first time since the Dodgers eliminated the Braves in an NL division series last year.

Los Angeles (59-47) begins an eight-game homestand with this three-game set. The Dodgers have not played since they capped a three-game sweep in San Francisco with Sunday’s 4-3 victory that ensured they would leave the Bay Area in first place.

”You make enough of a statement by winning three games,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”Obviously it’s something. That’s all it is at that point because you have a lot of baseball to play. We’re going to see these guys again. They’re not going anywhere.”

Hanley Ramirez was 6 for 13 with three RBIs, Adrian Gonzalez 5 for 13 with three RBIs and Yasiel Puig 5 for 14 with three triples as the Dodgers outscored the Giants 17-4.

Those hitters caused major problems for Atlanta (58-48) in last year’s playoffs. Ramirez was 8 for 16 with six RBIs, Puig was 8 for 17 and Gonzalez 6 for 18.

Carl Crawford homered three times and Juan Uribe added two as the Dodgers batted .333 in capturing the series in four games after losing five of seven to the Braves in the regular season.

It was a difficult series for Atlanta sluggers Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, who combined to go 5 for 32 with 11 strikeouts and four RBIs – all by Heyward.

Upton is 2 for 5 against Dodgers starter Josh Beckett (6-5, 2.52 ERA). Brother B.J. Upton has one hit in his last 17 at-bats versus Beckett, who is 6-0 with a 0.38 ERA in his last seven starts against the Braves although he hasn’t faced them in more than five years.

Beckett is no doubt more concerned about recovering from his start one week ago in which he didn’t get a decision after allowing four runs and a season-high three homers in a season-low 3 2-3 innings in a 12-7 loss at Pittsburgh. It was his first outing in 16 days after hip problems.

"I was ready to pitch," Beckett said. "The trainers cleared me. The doctors cleared me. I just didn’t pitch well and I put the guys coming in behind in a tough spot because they had to pitch way too many innings."

The right-hander is 0-4 with a 3.30 ERA in his last five home starts.

Braves starter Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.31) has a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts and is 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA in his last six outings. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers since his lone season with them in 2012.

Ramirez is 10 for 26 with five homers off the right-hander and Gonzalez is 7 for 17 with three homers.

B.J. Upton and rookie Tommy La Stella will likely be back in Atlanta’s lineup after they did not start in Monday’s 2-0 win over San Diego that capped a 6-5 homestand.

Heyward left after the third inning with lower back soreness. He’s day to day.

The Dodgers acquired second baseman Darwin Barney in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Monday for a player to be named. Barney won a Gold Glove in 2012 after tying the major league single-season record with 141 consecutive errorless games. But he was designated for assignment last Tuesday after hitting .230 with 16 RBIs in 72 games this season.