Dodgers' rally falls short against Braves

Dodgers' rally falls short against Braves

LOS ANGELES -- The three walk-off wins this week might have had less to do with the Dodgers and more to do with the opposing Arizona Diamondbacks, a last-place team that found three ways to lose.

The Atlanta Braves aren't the D-backs, as they showed the Dodgers on Thursday night, hanging on for a 4-3 victory that increased their win streak to nine and snapped the Dodgers' at four.

The Dodgers were able to reel off those wins despite an offensive slump that continues. They did come up with a three-run eighth inning, although two of the hits didn't leave the infield and one run scored on a throwing error by rookie Jason Heyward and a great slide by Blake DeWitt to avoid a tag at the plate.

Otherwise, Kris Medlen, in his fifth Major League start, outpitched Hiroki Kuroda, who lost for the third consecutive start, allowed another first-inning run and walked four in six innings.

"I was trying to locate pitches too carefully and mislocating and getting behind in the count and repeating that many times," Kuroda said.

The Dodgers also lost third baseman Casey Blake from the starting lineup with pregame back spasms and reliever Jeff Weaver to a blister on his middle finger that prevented him from making even one pitch after coming on in relief of Kuroda.

Jamey Carroll started for Blake and singled in the eighth-inning rally, the first right-handed hitter with a hit off Medlen (he came into the game allowing righties a .342 average).

"We're not really having real good at-bats," said manager Joe Torre. "The opposing pitchers' pitch counts have been really low. We're not having quality at-bats we had a week or so ago. We have to fight our way out. I hope those runs in the eighth got us started. We've been trying to do too much."

Andre Ethier had two hits for the first time since returning from a broken finger earlier this week, but he also struck out with runners on the corners to end the eighth inning.

"We need him to get back," Torre said.

Ethier jawed with plate umpire D.J. Reyburn after the strikeout, later confirming that he let a called second strike on a slider that might have been inside rattle him.

"You get caught up in the emotion of the game and sometimes react before thinking," said Ethier, who then swung through a fastball for strike three. "I still had a job to do and didn't do it. I still had a pitch left and let that get away. It's kind of frustrating."

Then imagine what Manny Ramirez must be thinking, and all we can do is imagine, because he's not saying. But Ramirez went 0-for-4 despite stinging two line drives. He's hitting .188 since returning from the disabled list May 8.

"I don't think we rely on him," said Torre. "When he's not hitting, it makes it a little tougher, but I don't think we rely. After what went on last year [with Ramirez's 50-game drug suspension] and earlier this year [during his DL stint], we've won a lot of games without him in the lineup. Manny, at times, puts extra pressure on himself. But I don't think that if he's not contributing that we can't produce."

In the eighth-inning rally, Ronnie Belliard's pinch-single with the bases loaded to greet Peter Moylan scored one run, another scored on Heyward's throwing error on the same play and a third came home on Rafael Furcal's groundout.

The Braves cashed in Martin Prado's double leading off the game against Kuroda with National League Player of the Month Troy Glaus' two-out RBI single. Glaus slugged his 10th homer of the year into the left-field box seats leading off the fourth inning. Eric Hinske followed with a single, and two outs later Nate McLouth had an RBI double for a 3-0 Braves lead.

Atlanta added to the lead in the fifth inning on a walk to Hinske, Yunel Escobar's single and what was ruled an RBI line double by Medlen when Ramirez failed to make a shoestring catch.

Former Dodgers closer Takashi Saito was one strike away from recording his first save of the season when he suffered a strained hamstring pitching to Russell Martin. That allowed Jonny Venters to pick up a rare one-pitch save when he got Martin to swing and miss at his first pitch.

"When I got out there, [manager] Bobby [Cox] said, 'If you're going to throw a slider, throw it in the dirt,'" said Venters. "So I threw a slider in the dirt, and fortunately he swung. These guys have never seen me so I'm sure he didn't have any idea what I was throwing."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.