Braves’ free-fall continues in 6-4 loss to Dodgers
ATLANTA (AP) — Freddie Freeman promised the Braves won’t give up on the season.
Freeman had three hits, including a double in Atlanta’s three-run eighth, but the rally fell short as the slumping Braves fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Thursday.
The Braves trailed 5-1 before the eighth.
“I really liked the effort of our club, being down 5-1,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We didn’t give up. We didn’t give up at-bats. We had a chance.”
Even so, another loss extended Atlanta’s free-fall. The Braves, who lost three of four in the series, began the day trailing first-place Washington by 5 games in the NL East.
“We’ve still got 41 games left,” Freeman said. “We can still make something of this if we keep grinding. ... We’re not giving up. We’re still in this thing.”
Kenley Jansen struck out B.J. Upton with runners on second and third to end the game.
Dee Gordon had three hits and scored four runs for the NL West-leading Dodgers. Drew Butera hit a two-run homer, his first in almost three months.
Gordon stole two bases, increasing his total to 54, the most in the major leagues.
“Dee Gordon beat us,” Gonzalez said.
Gordon had plenty of help. Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez, who followed Gordon in the batting order, each also had three hits. Gonzalez drove in three runs.
The Braves trailed 5-1 before Justin Upton’s two-run double off Brian Wilson in the eighth. Andrelton Simmons’ single off Jansen drove in Upton, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to one run.
Jansen struck out pinch-hitter Evan Gattis to end the eighth. After Los Angeles scored one run in the top of the ninth, the Braves gave Jansen a scare.
After giving up a one-out walk to Jason Heyward, Jansen struck out Emilio Bonifacio. Freeman doubled off the right-field wall, moving Heyward to third. Jansen wrapped up his 34th save on Upton’s swinging strikeout.
The Braves have lost 12 of 15.
Aaron Harang (9-7) had his worst start in two months, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings. Harang hadn’t allowed as many runs since he was charged with nine runs, eight earned, in a 10-5 loss to Philadelphia on June 18.
Roberto Hernandez (7-8) gave up one run on three hits and four walks in six innings.
Dodgers: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said RHP Josh Beckett won’t come off the 15-day disabled list when eligible on Tuesday. Beckett, who has a left hip impingement, will have more tests and Mattingly said surgery “is a possibility.” Mattingly said LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu may have a MRI after leaving Wednesday night’s game with a right gluteus muscle strain.
Braves: After doubling and advancing with a slide into third base in the eighth, Upton left the game with a mild left hamstring strain. “It’s something that flares up,” he said. The Braves say his status is day to day. B.J. Upton came in as a pinch-runner.
Dodgers: After completing a nine-game road trip, the Dodgers open a home series against Milwaukee as RHP Zack Greinke looks for his 13th win against RHP Jimmy Nelson. Greinke, an All-Star this season, is 6-2 with a 2.66 in 10 home starts.
Braves: Atlanta opens a weekend series against the AL West-leading Oakland A’s as LHP Alex Wood (8-9) tries to reach .500 against Jason Hammel (1-4).
Luis Avilan, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, gave up one run on two hits and a walk in the ninth. He said he focused on his curveball and change-up at Gwinnett. He joins James Russell as left-handers in the Braves’ bullpen. The team optioned RHP Juan Jaime to Gwinnett following Wednesday night’s win.
BACK TO THE WALL
Puig made a leaping catch of Freeman’s drive at the 400-foot mark, falling with his back against the center field wall in the sixth.