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Bobby Miller rescues Dodgers with a career-long performance to beat Braves

Atlanta Braves v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Michael Owens/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Bobby Miller had his best start to date, pitching a career-high seven innings as the Dodgers salvaged one game against the Braves, eking out a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

Miller kept the Braves off the board until two outs in the seventh inning, when Matt Olson took him deep to cut the Dodgers’ lead in half. For all the hitting that Atlanta did in this series, with 19 runs and eight home runs in winning the first three games, the major league leader in home runs, Olson, was hitless in 15 at-bats before launching a ball deep into the visitor’s bullpen.

That snapped a string of 16 consecutive batters retired by Miller, who has received more leash of late. This was his third time pitching into the seventh inning in his last five starts. Miller allowed a single and walk without recording an out in the seventh on August 9 in Arizona, then left after a single and walk with one out in the seventh on August 22 in Cleveland. Both runners later scored.

On Sunday, Miller followed the home run by walking Marcell Ozuna, which prompted a visit by pitching coach Mark Prior, but this was Miller’s inning to finish, which he did with a harmless groundout by Eddie Rosario.

Miller struck out five in his seven innings, and induced 16 swinging strikes. He allowed only three hits and a walk.

The Dodgers had more trouble scoring themselves on Sunday, bunching together hits in a few innings at opportune times.

After James Outman walked to open the fifth, Miguel Rojas doubled off the wall to bring home the first run of the game, and advanced to third on the throw home. Mookie Betts bounced a single over a drawn-in infield to cash in Rojas, to end starter Charlie Morton’s day just three batters into the fifth inning.

With two outs and nobody on in a one-run game in the eighth, Jason Heyward singled, Chris Taylor walked, and Outman singled against reliever Ben Heller to deliver an insurance run.

Heyward had two hits on Sunday, his fourth multi-hit game in his last nine, but also shined in the field. He has been excellent defensively, especially in right field this season, rating as plus-five in both Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average despite playing only roughly 40 percent of the Dodgers’ innings at the position this season.

That defense came into play in the sixth inning, when he ranged to snag a pop-up in short right field with a diving backhanded catch to rob Ozzie Albies of a hit, ending the frame.

After the Dodgers ran out of Millers to pitch — Shelby pitched a scoreless eighth to follow Bobby — the ninth inning belonged to Brusdar Graterol, pitching for a second straight day and third appearances in the four-game weekend series.

Graterol walked Ozzie Albies but got Austin Riley to ground into a double play. Olson fought off a fastball for a two-out single, but Graterol struck out the potential tying run Ozuna to end the game, preventing a sweep.

Sunday particulars

Home run: Matt Olson (44)

WP — Bobby Miller (9-3): 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

LP — Charlie Morton (14-11): 4+ IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Sv — Brusdar Graterol (7): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers are off Monday, then hit the road to face the Marlins. Clayton Kershaw starts the series opener on Tuesday night in Miami (3:40 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with fellow southpaw Jesús Luzardo on the mound for the home team.