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8th Inning Rally falls Short; Dodgers fall to Braves

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The Dodgers again struggled at the plate for most of the contest as the Braves took the opening game of a 4 game set 4-3.  The Dodgers were completely shut down early in the contest by youngster Kris Medlen who kept the Dodgers hitters off balance all night.  Medlen was recently pushed into the starting rotation due to an injury to Jair Jurrgens, and the scouting report on Medlen was that he struggled as his pitch count got higher. Medlen was brilliant through 7.0 innings, yet the Dodgers were able to string together (some fairly lucky) hits in the 8th. James Loney and Blake DeWitt got on base with infield singles and Jamey Carroll followed up with a seeing eye single to load the bases.  Bobby Cox liftted Medlen for Peter Moylan who proceeded to surrender a ground ball single to pinch hitter Ronnie Belliard which scored two runs thanks to a throwing error by Jason Heyward and a brilliant slide by Blake DeWitt.  Rafael Furcal followed up with a fielders choice which scored Carroll and the Dodgers were suddenly within 1 run at 4-3.  After walking Matt Kemp, Cox brought in the LOOGY Eric O'Flaherty who struck out Andre Ethier which ended the rally. 

Old friend Takashi Saito came in to start the 9th inning and was 1 strike away from recording his first save of the year.  After going 0-2 to Russell Martin, Saito pulled up lame and had to be removed.  Jonny Venters came in and recorded the ever rare 1 strike save.

Hiroki Kuroda hardly had a bounce back game tonight.  While Kuroda wasn't nearly as brutal as he had been the game prior, but he was hardly sharp. Kuroda surrendered all 4 runs in his 6.0 innings of work.  While Kuroda might have been getting squeezed a bit, he walked 4 and was punished by throwing "get over" pitches during hitting counts, including a solo homerun which was crushed by Troy Glaus

Kuroda was lifted after the 6th inning and Joe Torre called for Jeff Weaver to come out of the bullpen. Weaver did not throw a pitch as he had some sort of injury which compelled the Dodgers to pull him.  No word yet if the injury is serious, but if it requires a DL trip, hopefully Travis Schlichting didn't yet board a flight for Albuquerque.  Justin Miller came in and worked 2 innings in relief followed by Ronald Belisario who pitched a scoreless ninth inning.  

WP - Kris Medlen (3-1):  7.2 IP, 6 hits, 4 strikeouts, 3 runs, 2 earned

LP -  Hiroki Kuroda (5-4):  6.0 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned runs, 4 walks

S-  Jonny Venters (1): 0.1 IP, 1 strike out