|"ATLANTA, GA - MAY 17: Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves makes a sliding catch against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on May 17, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)"|
Following a lengthy road trip, the National League East leaders, the Atlanta Braves will returned home to open up a three-game series with the last-place Los Angeles Dodgers. As for Atlanta, they have struggled on the back end of their recent ten-game road trip, dropping five out of their last six games and their lead in the division has been cut to just a half-game. Dodgers have been playing better baseball in wake of their eight-game losing streak and suddenly, both clubs are trending in opposite directions. Braves started off strong on the road trip, winning three of the first four games, including taking two of three from the Reds before sputtering out of control. Tonight, they will turn to starter Paul Maholm, who is on the same downward trend as the rest of his team during the road trip. Maholm, (4-4, 3.94 ERA) earned his fourth win of the season with an impressive performance against the Reds on May 6th, going (5.2) innings , allowed (2) runs on (4) hits, allowed (2) walks and struck out (6) in the 7-4 win; however, in his last start against the Giants, Maholm was tagged for (6) runs on (8) hits in just (4.1) innings while throwing a season-low 86 pitches before exiting in an eventual 10-1 loss. As for the Dodgers, they will counter with Korean phenom, Hyun-Jin Ryu who stopped the Dodgers eight-game losing streak, going (6.2) innings and conceding just one run against tthe Miami Marlins in his last start. The Braves would get a boost to their lineup as Jason Heyward was activated from the 15-day DL and will hit second in tonight's lineup. In order to create a roster spot for Heyward, Jordan Walden was sent to the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Heyward has been sidelined since April 22nd after undergoing an appendectomy procedure in Denver. Braves are 13-4 when Heyward is in the lineup, 9-14 without him so Atlanta would hope that his return would be the sign of change in the Braves season. Tonight, Braves will begin to even out as they begin a six-game home stand with the Los Angeles Dodgers; followed by an inter-league contest against the AL Central Minnesota Twins.
|"ATLANTA, GA - MAY 17: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers knocks in a run with a fourth inning single against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 17, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)"|
|"ATLANTA, GA - MAY 17: Justin Upton #8 of the Atlanta Braves rounds the bases after hitting a sixth-inning grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on May 17, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)"|
The Dodgers would open the inning with a Scott Van Slyke homer on a fly ball to center field to give them a 4-2 lead; however, they wouldn't cause any more damage as Luis Cruz pops out to shortstop Andrelton Simmons; followed by Dee Gordon flies out to center fielder B. J. Upton and finally after Tim Federowicz singles on a soft line drive to center fielder B. J. Upton, Carl Crawford grounds out, second baseman Dan Uggla to first baseman Freddie Freeman and the Dodgers took a two run lead to the bottom frame. In Atlanta's next offensive stint, after B. J. Upton strikes out swinging for the first out, Jordan Schafer singles on a fly ball to left fielder Carl Crawford; followed by a Andrelton Simmons reaches on a fielding error by third baseman Luis Cruz. Jordan Schafer to 2nd to place two on with one out and the bases were loaded as Jason Heyward walks. Jordan Schafer to 3rd. Andrelton Simmons to 2nd. One out. Justin Upton hits a grand slam to left field. Jordan Schafer scores. Andrelton Simmons scores. Jason Heyward scores and Atlanta leads 6-4 with one out. Freddie Freeman walked with one out. The inning would finally come to an end as Chris Johnson strikes out swinging; followed by Brian McCann grounds out softly, shortstop Dee Gordon to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and the Braves took a 6-4 lead into the next inning.
Before the Braves started the inning, a pitching change was made as Luis Avilan replaces Paul Maholm, batting 5th, replacing third baseman Chris Johnson. Malholm's night finished with (6.0) innings pitched, allowed (8) hits, earned two of the four runs, allowed one walk, and struck out three batters. Avilan would send the Dodgers lineup down in a 1-2-3 fashion as Nick Punto grounds out, shortstop Andrelton Simmons to first baseman Freddie Freeman; followed by Matt Kemp grounds out, third baseman Ramiro Pena to first baseman Freddie Freeman and ended with Adrian Gonzalez strikes out swinging. As for the Braves next stint, Dan Uggla pops out to second baseman Skip Schumaker for the first out; followed by B. J. Upton called out on strikes for the second out. The inning stayed alive as Ramiro Pena triples on a fly ball to center fielder Matt Kemp. Two out. Andrelton Simmons reaches on a fielding error by left fielder Carl Crawford. Ramiro Pena scores. Andrelton Simmons to 2nd and the Braves led 7-4. Jason Heyward singles on a line drive to left fielder Carl Crawford. Andrelton Simmons scores. Jason Heyward out at 2nd on the throw, left fielder Carl Crawford to catcher A. Ellis to second baseman Skip Schumaker and Atlanta would take a commanding 8-4 lead into the next frame.
As the Braves took the field, another pitching change occurred as Eric O'Flaherty replaces Luis Avilan, batting 5th. The Dodgers would start this inning as A. J. Ellis grounds out, third baseman Ramiro Pena to first baseman Freddie Freeman. Scott Van Slyke homered on a fly ball to center field to trim the Braves lead down to 8-5. The inning would end for Los Angeles as Luis Cruz pops out to third baseman Ramiro Pena in foul territory; followed by Dee Gordon strikes out on a foul tip. As for the Braves final offensive stretch, Justin Upton grounds out, third baseman Luis Cruz to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.; followed by Freddie Freeman pops out to pitcher J. P. Howell for the second out. : Pinch-hitter Reed Johnson replaces Eric O'Flaherty.
and Reed Johnson grounds out, third baseman Luis Cruz to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and the Braves took their 8-5 lead into the final inning.
Atlanta sent out reliever Craig Kimbrel to replace Eric O'Flaherty and was looking to close out the victory over Los Angeles and would do the job in the Dodgers final offensive stretch, after Skip Schumaker singles on a ground ball to center fielder B. J. Upton with no outs. However, they wouldn't capitalize as Carl Crawford strikes out swinging; followed by Andre Ethier strikes out swinging and Matt Kemp grounds out, shortstop Andrelton Simmons to first baseman Freddie Freeman and the Braves would earn the first win of the series over the Dodgers and end their two- game losing streak.
Paul Maholm (5-4):
(6.0) innings pitched, allowed (8) hits, earned two of the four runs, allowed one walk, and struck out three batters.
Paco Rodriguez (0-2):
(0.2) Innings Pitched, allowed one hit, (2) earned runs, (2) walks allowed, and struck out one batter
Craig Kimbrel (12)
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
|"ATLANTA, GA - MAY 17: Justin Upton #8 of the Atlanta Braves hits a sixth-inning grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on May 17, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)"|
Without any question, Justin Upton was a critical factor in Atlanta's win tonight. Although Upton was (1-4) tonight, two of his at-bats sparked a Braves offensive run in the third inning with his sacrifice ground out to tie the game at 1-1 and his outstanding grand slam to push the Braves over the top with a 6-4 lead and Atlanta would never look back. Tonight, Justin Upton earned his major-league leading (14th) home run to give the Braves the edge necessary to win the game. In the first two months of the season, it's clear that Justin Upton is not only the most valuable player in the Atlanta Braves lineup; but, the National League's most valuable player as well. Justin Upton has lived up to all of the hype that was generated in the trade back from January. Upton has cooled off some from his explosive start in April; however, he's still a great asset to the Braves offense and tonight's game was another indicating factor in how tremendous the 25-year old left fielder can be throughout the remainder of the 2013 MLB season.