Braves’ McCarthy returns to L.A. to take on Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — Brandon McCarthy will return to Los Angeles on Friday, a place where he showed flashes of brilliance, but where his time was spent mostly with the frustration of multiple injuries.

The right-hander is now pitching for the Atlanta Braves following a winter trade that brought Matt Kemp back to L.A., and he will return to Dodger Stadium for the opener of a three-game weekend series.

A surprise addition to the 2018 World Series roster for the Dodgers, McCarthy’s one postseason appearance was one he would like to forget. He gave up a home run to the Astros’ George Springer in the 11th inning and the Dodgers were unable to take a 2-0 lead in the series. The Astros would win the title in an epic seven-game duel.

McCarthy (5-2, 4.83 ERA) is likely to have a better time Friday. The veteran has given up two earned runs or fewer in three of his last four outings.

And although he has been susceptible to the long ball, with nine home runs allowed in 63 1/3 innings, McCarthy has given up only two total in his last four outings.

With the Dodgers over three seasons, McCarthy was 11-7 with a 4.51 ERA in 33 outings (29 starts). Against the Dodgers in his career, he is 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA over four starts, with the last one coming in 2014.

McCarthy’s deal to Atlanta, along with Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Kazmir, was to not only free up some payroll, but to also free up rotation space in L.A. And one of those new rotation occupants is rookie Walker Buehler, who will start opposite McCarthy.

Buehler, a first-round pick in 2015, is 3-1 over the first eight starts of his career with a tidy 2.74 ERA over 46 innings. He has given up only two home runs. Buehler was a September call-up last season with a 7.71 ERA in eight relief appearances.

In his first career start at Colorado on Saturday, Buehler gave up four earned runs over five innings in offensive-minded Coors Field. In his two starts prior to that, the right-hander gave up a combined two earned runs in a pair of home outings against the Rockies and the San Diego Padres.

Home is where Buehler has flourished most, although he did open a combined no-hitter on May 4 against the Padres at Monterrey, Mexico. In four starts at Dodger Stadium this season, Buehler has a 1.44 ERA in 25 innings, with 27 strikeouts. He has never faced the Braves.

The Braves, powered by an offense that leads the National League with 312 runs and is second in OPS at .759, are 36-26, but 8-9 over their last 17 games going back to May 21. Atlanta pitching is seventh in the NL with a 3.57 ERA, and fourth in strikeouts with 552.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman saw his 16-game hit streak end Monday, then had a four-hit game Tuesday.

“I’m doing nothing different,” Freeman said, according to mlb.com. “Try to get a good pitch to hit, and it’s falling lately.”

While the Braves have wobbled a bit over the past three weeks, the Dodgers are in the midst of a revival. They are coming off a 5-1 road trip to Colorado and Pittsburgh, hitting 17 home runs in that stretch, and have won 15 of their last 20 games, going back to May 17.

Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, who has six home runs, hit five of them on the trip.

“It’s encouraging,” Pederson said of the team’s play on the SportsNet L.A. broadcast after Thursday’s 8-7 victory at Pittsburgh. “Winning is fun and everyone (needs to) stick to what they’re doing and keep working hard.”