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Braves feast on all that’s left in Dodgers bullpen

LA offense manages just 1 run off Braves starters the last 2 games

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Orlando Arcia hit a three-run home run off Alex Vesia, spoiling an otherwise stellar night by Dodgers pitchers. The offense, however, left a lot to be desired in a 4-2 loss in 10 innings to the Braves on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

Vesia got the left-handed Matt Olson to pop out to end the ninth inning, and got the first two in the 10th as well. Vesia’s walk of Sean Murphy snapped a string of 19 straight Braves batters retired by Dodgers pitchers, dating back to the fourth inning.

On the next pitch, Arcia crushed a ball into the left field pavilion, giving the Braves their third win in a row this weekend.

Entering the 10th, the Dodgers bullpen in this series had allowed only two runs (one earned) in 13⅔ innings.

That Vesia was still in the game to face the right-handed Arcia as his fifth batter, working his second inning, was a product of the nine-man Dodgers bullpen currently only having five right-handed pitchers. Four of them pitched already in this game, including Evan Phillips recording five outs in the eighth and ninth. The other right-hander, Gus Varland, was unavailable after throwing 39 pitches in two innings on Friday.

The only remaining options besides Vesia at this point in the game were fellow left-handers Caleb Ferguson and Victor González.

The Dodgers are probably at least a week away from even being able to add more right-handers to the bullpen. Joe Kelly is still working his way back from forearm/elbow inflammation and will need a rehab assignment before returning. Yency Almonte hasn’t yet thrown off of a mound and is nowhere close.

Michael Grove is expected to pitch for Oklahoma City early next week, and Dave Roberts said grove could conceivably join the Dodgers bullpen at some point next weekend against the Nationals.

But for the most part, this is the Dodgers bullpen for the present. They did a lot well on Saturday, but were tasked to do too much by a Dodgers offense that managed only one run in the first nine innings.

The run came on a double play in the third inning, when the Dodgers loaded the bases with nobody out but scored only once. They loaded the bases again in the fourth but came up empty.

Will Smith’s infield single in the 10th inning but runners at the corners with one out. It was the Dodgers’ first hit since the fourth inning, when Miguel Rojas singled. A Max Muncy sacrifice fly brought the Dodgers to within two in the 10th, but that was it.

Bryce Elder lasted six innings, giving up just the one run. Braves starters in this series — Spencer Strider, Max Fried, and Elder — have all pitched at least six innings, and have allowed a total of five runs in 19 innings to the Dodgers.

A welcome return

Emmet Sheehan had a solid outing in his first game in the majors in a month, striking out six, the most in any of his nine major league appearances. His night was done after 76 pitches and four innings, the latter a length he hasn’t surpassed in the majors or minors, by design, since July 29.

Sheehan induced 18 swinging strikes, easily his most in the majors, and tied for sixth-most by a Dodgers pitcher in 2023. The only run he allowed was a solo home run in the third inning by Ronald Acuña Jr., who obliterated a ball 121.2 mph to center field. But giving up a home run to Acuña is a rite of passage, especially this weekend with three homers for the Braves right fielder.

Bobblehead prowess

Austin Barnes was the latest Dodger this week to have a bobblehead giveaway at Dodger Stadium. His son Royce was the star of the show during the pregame, as he kept trying to run onto the infield as it was prepped. Austin’s wife Nicole threw the ceremonial first pitch, while holding Royce which made it even more impressive.

Then Barnes doubled to open the third inning, extending his hitting streak to seven games. Barnes also walked to load the bases in the fourth inning, but Mookie Betts was called out on strikes to end the threat.

Barnes dating back to July 26 has 14 hits in 40 at-bats, hitting .350/.395/.475.

Chris Taylor had three hits, including two doubles, and a walk on Tuesday against Arizona. He scored once and drove in another run. James Outman, who shared a joint bobblehead with Miguel Vargas, singled, walked, and scored a run in his four plate appearances on Thursday.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Ronald Acuña Jr. (32), Orlando Arcia (17)

WP — Michael Tonkin (6-2): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

LP — Alex Vesia (0-5): 1⅓ IP, 2 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk

Sv — Raisel Iglesias (28): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 unearned run, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers try to avoid a sweeo on Sunday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA). Bobby Miller starts the series and homestand finale, facing Braves veteran right-hander Charlie Morton.