The good news for the Dodgers is that they held a 2-0 lead over the Braves after six innings. The bad news is that Atlanta exploded for seven runs in the seventh inning to blow open a game that shouldn't have been that close to begin with, leading to a 9-3 win by the Braves.
The Dodgers had seven hits, a walk, and a hit by pitch against Tommy Hanson in the first three innings, but managed just two runs. Double plays in the first and second innings helped do them in. As such, the Dodgers carried only a 2-0 lead into the top of the seventh inning. Chad Billingsley threw 102 pitches in six scoreless innings, and came out to try and complete one more inning, against the bottom of the order. Yunel Escobar started the inning with a line drive single, which was no surprise since he has seven hits in 11 at-bats in this series. Nate McLouth followed with a bloop single behind second base, and pinch hitter Brooks Conrad singled off Billingsley's glove to bring the Braves within a run.
Ramon Troncoso entered the game, just his fourth appearance in the last 11 days. He had pitched three straight scoreless outings in relief after giving up home runs in three straight games, but tonight ended any hopes that Troncoso has turned things around. Troncoso faced four batters, and retired only Martin Prado, who sacrificed. Ronald Belisario had to relieve Troncoso, but gave up a towering home run to Troy Glaus to make it a 7-2 game. In all, Atlanta sent 10 men to the plate in the seventh inning, plating seven runs on seven hits and a walk.
Troncoso appeared in 14 of the Dodgers' first 20 games, and it was really 14 out of 19 since he missed opening day to be with his wife for the birth of his daughter. Troncoso didn't make an appearance with more than one day of rest until May 5. Since then, Joe Torre has lightened Troncoso's workload -- tonight was his 15th appearance in the last 36 games -- but perhaps the damage has already been done. In his last 15 appearances, Troncoso has given up 16 hits, five walks, and 12 runs (11 earned) with nine strikeouts in just 13 2/3 innings, for a 7.24 ERA (and roughly a 7.00 FIP).
I don't know if Troncoso is hurt, just tired, or if he is simply riding the middle reliever roller coaster. It might be a mix of all three, but as it stands right now I have confidence in Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo; the rest of the bullpen is a crapshoot.
Charlie Haeger tonight made his first major league appearance since May 8, and recorded his first major league out since May 4. He pitched mop-up duty over the last two innings and, as usual, filled up all the columns of the box score, allowing three hits, two runs, two walks while striking out three in his two innings of work.
- The Dodgers will likely decide tomorrow whether or not to place Casey Blake on the disabled list, reported Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Said Blake: "Yesterday I was pretty confident I wouldn't go on the DL. After talking to the doctors, maybe it would be smart to. This thing could linger."
- Nick Green cleared waivers and accepted a minor league assignment to Triple A. He started and played third base tonight for Albuquerque, collecting a double and three strikeouts in four at-bats. If Blake goes on the DL, I have to think Green's minor league assignment would come to an end rather quickly.
George Sherrill, eligible to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday, faced three batters on a rehab assignment in Albuquerque. He allowed a single to the first batter, then induced a groundout and strikeout to end the sixth inning. Sherrill will start tomorrow's game in Albuquerque to complete his rehab assignment.
- Blake DeWitt entered the night in a one-for-18 slump, but collected two hits, including his ninth double of the season.
John Ely goes for the series split tomorrow afternoon against Tim Hudson.
WP -Tommy Hanson (6-3): 6 IP, 8 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Chad Billingsley (6-3): 6+ IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts