Given, the final three runs came on singles that eluded second baseman Jeff Kent. The Braves announcer was perhaps a little rough when he said, "Kent has all the range of a rose bush," but in truth with L.A. leading 4-3 and two out, a ball between he and Nomar Garciaparra seemingly could have been turned into an inning-ending out and two batters later, a ball up the middle was just out of his reach."
However, the Dodger offense was again mired down, scoring a pair of runs in the fifth and seventh innings with all of the damage being done by the 6-7-8 hitters, Andy LaRoche (just up from Las Vegas), Andre Ethier and Mike Liebenthal. The top five in the lineup -- Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Garciaparra, Kent and Luis Gonzalez -- were a collective 2-for-24, with Gonzalez claiming both hits.
Randy Wolf, who was 0-2 with a 9.18 ERA in his last four starts against the Braves, sparkled after a staggering first inning in which four reached base and the only run credited to him scored.
He finished by allowing only six hits and had eight strikeouts and seemed set to get the win. He left with one out in the sixth after three straight singles but Rudy Seanez came in to coax a double play to get out of the mess.
Held to one hit with one out in the fifth, LaRoche doubled on a shot to right that bounced into the stands. It was his first major league hit. Ethier singled to right and LaRoche scored on a sweeping slide as Ethier took second. He scored moments later on Liebenthal's single to left.
After Seanez's heroics in the last of the sixth, the Dodgers tacked two more runs on the board in the seventh. Liebenthal dropped a two-out single in the short center field and Wilson Betemit banged his second pinch-hit home run in two games to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead.
Betemit has a shot to tie a Dodger record of three consecutive pinch-hit home runs set by Lee Lacy on May 2, 6 and 17. 1978.
The Dodgers were 15-0 in games they lead after six innings.
Score by innings Los Angeles 000 020 200-4 Atlanta 100 000 05x-6 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 3 0 0 0 .226 Pierre cf 3 0 0 0 .282 Garciaparra 1b 4 0 0 0 .288 Kent 2b 4 0 0 0 .287 Gonzalez lf 4 0 2 0 .287 LaRoche 3b 4 1 1 0 .250 Ethier rf 3 1 1 1 .276 Martin ph 1 0 0 0 .314 Liebenthal c 4 1 2 1 .222 Wolf p 2 0 0 0 .154 Seanez p 0 0 0 0 .000 Betemit ph 1 1 1 2 .154 Tsao p 0 0 0 0 .000 Billingsley p 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 33 4 7 4 Atlanta 35 6 11 6 Errors- Kent (5). 2B- LaRoche (1). HR- Betemit (2). RBI- Ethier (14), Liebenthal (1), Betemit 2 (9). CS- Pierre (4), Furcal (1). LOB- Dodgers 4, Atlanta (11). DP- Furcal and Garciaparra. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Wolf 5.1 5 1-1 2 8 4.61 Seanez 0.2 0 0-0 0 0 3.38 Tsao (0-1) 0.2 3 5-5 2 1 3.97 Billingsley 1.1 2 0-0 1 3 4.76 HBP- by Wolf. T- 2:57. Att- 35,350.LaRoche Called Up-- The first-place Dodgers benched Wilson Betemit and his .140 batting average indefinitely and promoted Andy LaRoche, who was hitting .235 at Triple-A Las Vegas with three homers and 11 RBIs. He posted a .175 average with no homers and one RBI in Spring Training. "We decided to try a different angle," said manager Grady Little, who has been patient with Betemit. "We feel confident about what [LaRoche] is going to do here. We'll give him a good opportunity."
LaRoche was drafted by the Dodgers in the 39th round of the June 2003 First-Year Player Draft and entered the 2007 season rated as the 5th best prospect in the Dodger organization, according to LADugout.com. In four professional seasons entering this year, he had a .292 career average with 72 homers and 256 RBI in 377 games. Andy's father, Dave, pitched for 14 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1970-83 and his brother, Adam, plays first base for Pittsburgh.
To make room for LaRoche, the Dodgers placed Marlon Anderson on the disabled list with a (wink, wink) sore elbow, calling to mind outfielder Jay Johnstone who thoughtfully came up with an injury when a roster switch was in the works. Little said Anderson was sent back to Los Angeles for an MRI.
Anderson took over left field for the slumping Andre Ethier last year and slugged seven homers in the stretch run. He was 4-for-22 this year, all the hits coming as a pinch-hitter.
Dodger Blue Notes--Brad Penny (3-0, 1.64 ERA) opens the four-game series tonight (Monday) against his former team, the Florida Marlins, and Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 5.68).