Justin Upton drove in five runs to overcome the power display of Scott Van Slyke, sending the Dodgers to an 8-5 loss to the Braves on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at Turner Field in Atlanta.
Upton hit a no-doubter well into the left field seats against Paco Rodriguez in the sixth inning for a grand slam that turned a 4-2 Dodgers lead into a 6-4 Braves advantage. The grand slam, the major league best 14th for the younger Upton, came two batters after Andrelton Simmons reaching on a fielding error by Luis Cruz.
This came two innings after the Dodgers took advantage of a Dan Uggla error in an extended fourth frame. Both pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu and Carl Crawford hit two-out RBI singles to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. Van Slyke widened the lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning, with the first of his two home runs on the night.
Upton hit the slam off Rodriguez in the sixth - the first major league home run allowed by Rodriguez - in part because Ryu didn't last at least six innings for the first time in his nine MLB starts.
Ryu was all over the place on Friday, with a season-high five walks in his five innings, and just 56 of his 100 pitches went for strikes. But he did strikeout five and managed to leave with a 4-2 lead.
The Braves added two insurance runs in the seventh when Crawford misplayed an inning-ending ball by Simmons, followed by a Jayson Heyward single.
Van Slyke hit his second home run in the eighth inning. On the season, in 13 plate appearances, is tied for third on the team with three home runs.
Now we get to wait and find out whether or not Mark Ellis leaving his minor league rehab game in Double-A Chattanooga one inning early was for any particular reason other than precaution.
Home runs: Scott Van Slyke 2 (3); Justin Upton (14)
WP - Paul Maholm (5-4): 6 IP, 8 hits, 4 runs (2 earned runs), 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
LP - Paco Rodriguez (0-2): ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Sv - Craig Kimbrel (12): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts