Dodgers 6, Braves 1
So much for distractions. The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to focus on Derek Lowe and the Atlanta Braves.
Hours after Major League Baseball announced it was assuming control of the Dodgers, Jon Garland pitched a four-hitter to lead Los Angeles to a 6-1 victory Wednesday night on manager Don Mattingly's 50th birthday.
''I feel bad about the situation and everything that's going on,'' said Garland, in his second stint with the Dodgers. ''But as a player in this locker room, you have to go about your business the right way. If that affects the way you play, you need to look in the mirror and question yourself a little bit.''
Commissioner Bud Selig told Frank McCourt he will appoint a MLB representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the club, which had been increasingly paralyzed by its owners' bitter divorce.
But the players didn't seem to be bothered by the turmoil one bit.
''There was a lot going on, a lot for our guys to deal with - to answer all those questions,'' said Mattingly, who experienced more than his share of distractions during his years as a player and coach with the late George Steinbrenner's Yankees. ''But I really feel like it shouldn't have an effect on us as a club. We've got to come out and do the things we always do and just go about our business.''
Center fielder Matt Kemp said the situation isn't going to be a distraction for the team.
''As a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and for all of us as a team, our responsibility is just to play baseball and win as many games as we can,'' he said. ''We can't really worry about off-the-field issues.''
The Dodgers are 602-551 in the regular season since McCourt and then-wife Jamie bought the club from the Fox Group on Jan. 29, 2004, marking the third ownership change for a franchise that has been in business since 1890. They made it to the NL championship series in 2008 and 2009 after obtaining Manny Ramirez from Boston, but still owe the retired slugger $8.3 million this season and the same amount in each of the next two.
''It's sad. I feel sad about what has happened,'' Dodgers executive and Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda said. ''I've spent 62 years in this organization, and I've never seen anything like this happen. But I'll tell you, I got along with Frank and Jamie. They both treated me outstanding. I was their special adviser and I enjoyed working for them, so I can't say anything bad about them. Frank loved the Dodgers. A lot of people may not realize that, but he really loved the Dodgers.''
Juan Uribe broke out of a severe slump with four RBIs in the first two innings, and Andre Ethier had three hits, including his 100th career homer. Ethier extended his hitting streak to a major league-best 17 games - the longest by a Dodger since Kemp's 19-game stretch in 2008.
Garland (1-1) struck out four and walked two in his second start of the season after missing the first 13 games with a strained oblique muscle. The right-hander threw 108 pitches and gave up his only run in the third on Martin Prado's sacrifice fly.
It was Garland's 11th career complete game and first since Aug. 2, 2009, when he tossed a seven-hitter for Arizona in a 5-2 win at the New York Mets. The two-time All-Star signed a one-year, $5 million contract with Los Angeles over the winter after going 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA last year with San Diego.
''I've got to tip my cap to Donnie for allowing me to go out for the ninth and giving me the opportunity,'' Garland said. ''I knew I was on a short leash, so I was hoping to throw strikes and still get quick outs. They're a team that likes to hit the fastball, and they're out there swinging. But the ball was moving just enough to where it was missing the sweet part of the bat.''
Lowe (2-3) started for Atlanta on three days' rest and lasted three innings, giving up five runs and nine hits. The former Dodgers right-hander came in with a 1.82 ERA.
''Tonight had nothing to do with how many days' rest. I just never got into a good rhythm,'' Lowe said. ''I never at any point really felt the game was going to spiral out of control. But it just kept adding up. They did a lot of taking (pitches), and it beat me up. I wasn't very sharp and they took advantage of it.''
The Braves, who have allowed 19 first-inning runs in their first 19 games, fell behind 2-0 on Uribe's two-out single. The hit scored Casey Blake and Ethier, who reached on ground-rule double into the left-field corner.
Lowe walked Garland with one out in the second and gave up a hit-and-run single by Blake before Ethier drove in the Dodgers' third run with a broken-bat single. Kemp reached on an infield hit and Uribe made it 5-0 with another two-run single.
Uribe came in batting .183 with just three RBIs in his first 60 at-bats.
''I threw way too many noncompetitive pitches. And walking the pitcher with one out just led to disaster,'' Lowe said. ''Both of Uribe's hits came on hanging breaking balls. If you drew a circle, they'd probably both be in the same spot. Sometimes you get your brains beat in, that's what happens. Garland pitched a great game, so the combination wasn't very good.''
Ethier, who hit a career-high 31 homers in 2009 and dropped off to 28 last season, got his second of the year with two out in the fourth against Christhian Martinez
NOTES: The game was played in a crisp 2 hours and 17 minutes. ... Ethier's homer ended a stretch of 53 2-3 innings by Braves pitchers without allowing a home run.