Braves face tall task in trip to Dodger Stadium (Jul 20, 2017)

BY AP • July 20, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- The Atlanta Braves have had a tough schedule of late, and it is about to get harder.

Atlanta faces the sizzling Dodgers -- winners of 11 straight -- for four games starting Thursday night in Los Angeles, where the Braves even struggled at times during their run of 14 consecutive National League East Division titles.

"I think the baseball gods are due to slow them down a little bit," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

The Braves are 134-197 at Dodger Stadium since moving to Atlanta in 1966 and have lost 12 of their past 15 games there, postseason included.

Los Angeles has won four straight National League West titles, but these Dodgers have far surpassed the in-season success of any of those teams.

The Dodgers are a major-league-best 66-29 thanks to a franchise-record 31 wins in 35 games after sweeping a two-game interleague series against the White Sox in Chicago.

The 11-game winning streak follows a 10-gamer in June. The Dodgers have a plus-181 run differential.

"We've really hit our stride," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

The Dodgers have been hot since starting 9-11.

"To say this is a five-week thing I don't think is fair to the team," said third baseman Justin Turner, who leads the majors with a .372 batting average.

The Braves (45-48) had gone 5-4 against playoff-bound teams Houston, Washington and Arizona to get to .500 before being swept in a three-game home series by the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

"There is still fight left in us," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said.

Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 3.84 ERA) will start the series opener for the Braves in his first California outing since taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning June 30 at Oakland.

The 25-year-old right-hander will be facing a team that hardly resembles the rebuilding A's, though.

Foltynewicz, who hasn't pitched against the Dodgers previously, has won his last four decisions and allowed more than three runs only once in eight starts since May.

The Dodgers, though, have averaged 5.4 runs per game at home and the Braves have lost 26 of their past 32 road games against the NL West.

The Braves will have to face left-handers Clayton Kershaw (15-2, 2.07 ERA) and Alex Wood (11-0, 1.56 ERA) in the series, but at least it won't be in the first game.

The Dodgers starter in the series opener is right-hander Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.38 ERA). Los Angeles has won each of McCarthy's past five starts, but the 34-year-old veteran has failed to pitch five innings in two of them and allowed four runs over 4 2/3 innings in his most recent start at Miami.

McCarthy, who is 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA at Dodger Stadium, has made one previous start against the Braves, giving up three runs over 6 1/3 innings at Arizona in 2014 while with the Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers' 11-game winning streak matches one in 2006. The last time the franchise had two double-figure streaks in the same season was 1955, when the Dodgers won their only World Series in Brooklyn.

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