Drew Butera homered, the top of the Dodgers lineup was highly productive and the club survived a Brian Wilson tightrope act in a 6-4 win over the Braves to close out a four-game series at Turner Field in Atlanta.
The Dodgers won their season series against the Braves six games to one, their best mark against Atlanta since going 15-2 against them in 1973.
Butera hit a two-run shot to left field in the second innings, giving Dodgers catchers two of the four home runs hit by the team during their nine-game road trip. Not only are Butera's three home runs this season a career high, but are only two shy of his career total in 190 games and 541 plate appearances entering 2014.
Dee Gordon began his road trip just 3-for-25 but used a pair of infield hits on Wednesday to turn things around. He carried that into Thursday, which began with a well-executed push bunt single in between third base and the mound. Gordon reached base each of his first three times up, stole two bases, and scored all three times.
Gordon had a second fantastic bunt single in the ninth inning, this time up the first base line, and scored a career-high fourth run of the game for an insurance run.
Gordon also stole two bases, adding to his major-league-leading total of 54 on the season. His 11 multi-steal games are the most in baseball this season, one more than Jose Altuve, who also ranks second with 46 steals.
Yasiel Puig rebounded from his golden sombrero on Wednesday night with a three hits in Thursday's finale, and in his career is hitting .452 (28-for-62) in 15 games against the Braves, including the playoffs. But his best contribution on Thursday was a fantastic catch retreating to the center field wall to rob Freddie Freeman of extra bases in the sixth inning.
Adrian Gonzalez singled home Gordon in the third and fifth innings, then doubled home Gordon in the ninth giving Gonzalez 82 runs batted in on the season to lead the National League. The inning might have produced more than the one insurance run had Lorenzo Bundy not unwisely sent a gimpy Puig (who was hit by a pitch on the foot) home against possibly the strongest relay arm in the league in Andrelton Simmons.
Gordon, Puig and Gonzalez — the top three hitters in the Dodgers lineup — each had three hits and combined to go 9-for-13 (.692) on the day and helped score runs in four of the first five innings, knocking out starter Aaron Harang after just 4⅓ innings, the second time in 17 days the Dodgers won a game started by their old friend.
After throwing just 65 pitches in six innings in his Dodgers debut, Roberto Hernandez wasn't quite as efficient in his second start with his new team, but was still effective. Hernandez had just one three-ball count in Milwaukee last Friday, but went to a full count to his first two batters on Thursday.
But even with a 22-pitch first inning, Hernandez held the Braves scoreless through the first three innings. He ran into some trouble with two straight walks to open the fourth inning, and one out later with a wild pitch and a 3-0 count to Tommy La Stella things could have got out of hand, but Hernandez recovered to retire La Stella and to end the inning, allowing only one run in a 25-pitch frame.
Hernandez went to three balls to nine batters on Thursday and walked four, but he gutted through six innings for the Dodgers, allowing just one run. Hernandez tied a season high with 118 pitches on Thursday, but finished strong with strikeouts of his final two batters faced.
In his previous six starts before getting acquired by the Dodgers, Hernandez struck out 13 total batters in 41⅓ innings. In two starts with the Dodgers he has 10 strikeouts.
The Dodgers were really cruising until the eighth inning, when the Braves greeted setup man Wilson with a single and two doubles to cut a 5-1 deficit in half. Wilson recovered to induce a fly out to right field then struck out La Stella, but was removed with two outs in favor of Kenley Jansen.
Jansen allowed a single to Simmons to cut the lead to 5-4, but struck out Evan Gattis to end the inning. After the Dodgers added an insurance run in the ninth the Braves threatened again against Jansen, putting runners on second and third with two outs thanks to Freddie Freeman's second double of the game, but Jansen struck out B.J. Upton to end the game.
Jansen's save was the seventh four-out save of his career, and third this season. Three of Jansen's seven career four-out saves were games started by Harang, including the last two.
Jansen got to bat in the top of the ninth, just the fourth plate appearance of his career. With two runners on base and two outs, he struck out against Anthony Varvaro to lower his career on-base percentage to .500, including .667 in three plate appearances as a left-handed batter.
Puig was picked off first base by Harang in the first inning, the third time in the last 12 games Puig has been picked off. It was just the sixth pickoff in Harang's 13-year career.
Gordon's 54 steals are the eighth-most in a season by a Los Angeles Dodger.
Gordon walked in the third inning, his first walk since July 22. He went 19 games and 83 plate appearances in between free passes.
Butera also singled in the sixth inning, his first single since July 6. His previous four hits in the interim included three doubles and a home run.
After a 6-3 road trip the Dodgers return home for a nine-game homestand, beginning with a weekend series against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. Zack Greinke starts the opener on Friday night looking to snap a personal two-start losing streak, facing Jimmy Nelson for Milwaukee.
Home run: Drew Butera (3)
WP -(7-8): 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP - Aaron Harang (9-7): 4⅓ IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Sv - Kanley Jansen (34): 1⅓ IP, 3 hits, 4 strikeouts