Braves aim for second straight win over Dodgers (Jul 21, 2017)

BY AP • July 21, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Residing in a golden state, the Los Angeles Dodgers will try to rekindle that glow against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

The Dodgers lost the series opener Thursday, but that was hardly cause for alarm. They won each of their previous 11 games, and they have won 31 of their past 36 games. They are doing it in such an entertaining and dominating fashion, they remind some of the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

"When you're talking about the Warriors, I'm a fan of the way they play," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "They are champions, and any time you can get compared to them, that's a good thing."

The Braves will try to win their second straight against the Dodgers and be more than a speed bump as Los Angeles cruises to the NL West title. Atlanta just isn't certain who will be its starting pitcher.

The listed starter for the Braves is Jaime Garcia (3-7, 4.33 ERA), but he has been mentioned in trade talks with various clubs. Multiple media reports had the Minnesota Twins zeroing in on the left-hander as of late Thursday night.

"I don't think anything has happened officially, so I have nothing right now," Braves manager Brian Snitker said after Atlanta's 6-3 win over Los Angeles.

Garcia has split four lifetime decisions against the Dodgers.

"He's done a great job; he's had a really good run," Snitker said. "With his stuff and what it does ... he had a really good outing Sunday. I just kind of expect that all the time with his movement. He has been a very successful major league pitcher.

"He's done exactly what we went out and got him for -- to cover innings -- and he's been really good."

The Dodgers are a notch or two above good. That especially goes for Alex Wood (11-0, 1.56 ERA), their Friday starter. In his past 12 starts, Wood has 10 wins while allowing a total of 10 earned runs in 73 innings.

However, Wood lost the lone time he faced Los Angeles in his career, giving up six runs (three earned) in four innings on April 19, 2016.

Thanks in part to a pitching staff fronted by Clayton Kershaw and Wood, Roberts believes the Dodgers are the best team in baseball.

"I said it this year, but I didn't say it last year," Roberts said. "Knowing the core group of players we had in the clubhouse, what it was going to take to win a championship and understand the depth that is needed. It's more of a declaration of what I feel, understanding we still have to go out there and play baseball.

"Last year I said this, too: The Cubs were the best team. I thought they were the best team last year, and they did it from the onset of the season. We learned a lot from last year."

So, if the Dodgers are wearing a bull's-eye because of their confidence and swagger, Roberts still isn't backing down.

"We have no problem having that target, and our record speaks for itself," Roberts said. "Teams come out and play their best against you, and you have to be ready for it."

The Braves understand the challenge.

"It's about as big as it gets," Snitker said. "They are the best team out there, and what they are doing is phenomenal. But it's fun because that is what you want to do -- to play the best and go after them. But it will be a challenge because they've got a good, young club."

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