Dodgers let leads slip away, fall to Braves

Dodgers fall to Braves at Turner Field

ATLANTA -- For all the times in four years that the Dodgers didn't do enough to help teammate Derek Lowe win, they did plenty to help him win Saturday as an opponent.

They threw away balls and dropped them and ended two innings with baserunning mistakes in a sour 4-3 loss to the Braves on Saturday.

Afterward, Orlando Hudson blamed himself for getting doubled off second base on pinch-hitter Juan Pierre's seventh-inning lineout.

"[It] cost us the game," said Hudson. "I looked and thought it was going to fall."

Russell Martin had to answer for defensive lapses, first for an errant pickoff throw from his knees in the Braves' winning sixth-inning rally, then for dropping Andre Ethier's one-hop throw that would have had Adam LaRoche so nailed at the plate that LaRoche didn't even slide. Compounding the misplay, batter Diory Hernandez advanced to second on Ethier's throw, so he scored the winning run on Greg Norton's pinch-single that followed.

"It hit my glove and I don't know why it didn't go in and stay there, but it didn't happen," Martin said of Ethier's throw. "Couldn't ask for a better throw."

First baseman James Loney said he didn't get the job done when he was unable to prevent Martin's pickoff attempt from skipping into right field and allowing LaRoche to take second as the tying run, which changed the complexion of the inning.

"I've got to try to block the ball," Loney said.

Apologies even came from the most unlikely source, first-base umpire Scott Barry. A Triple-A ump working vacation relief for Ed Hickox, Barry called Ethier's first-inning shot that landed in the middle of the first-base chalkline a foul ball, wiping out a double and triggering an argument that almost got Ethier ejected after he grounded out.

Asked if he watched a replay, manager Joe Torre said: "I didn't have to. In all deference to the umpire, he started to call it fair, then called it foul. He got turned around and got a little confused and made the wrong call. It's not an [umpire] conference play. Everybody stops running when it's called foul. Where do you put the runner? It's an unfortunate situation."

Between the top and bottom of the third inning, Barry told Ethier he missed the call and was sorry.

"He just said it was a real quick call and he made a mistake," said Ethier, who singled in the Dodgers' two-run fourth inning and slugged his 22nd home run for a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth. "Yeah, he apologized. Give him credit for owning up to that."

The Dodgers (64-40) had to own up to their sixth loss in the past nine days and another unfortunate conclusion to a Randy Wolf start.

Wolf's tough luck continued. In the third inning, he appeared to have Chipper Jones struck out, but plate umpire Tom Hallion disagreed on a 2-2 pitch and Jones followed with an RBI double. Jones singled home another run in the fifth right after Hudson mistimed his leap on a liner by Martin Prado that cleared Hudson's glove by an inch.

"Jumped too soon," said Hudson.

"It was a weird game," said Torre. "Even how we lost the lead happened so strangely. You feel you just let one get away. Obviously, we've played better ball than that defensively. Wolfy pitched well."

Wolf pitched better than the numbers -- six innings, four runs, nine hits -- look, although it was his first non-quality start since June 24. He fell to 5-6 this year, 4-12 lifetime against Atlanta (53-31) and 0-5 since 2003.

Wolf wouldn't engage in a dialogue about the 2-2 pitch to Jones, although he complained briefly to Hallion when he backed up the plate during the RBI double that followed.

"It was called a ball," Wolf said.

Nor would he dissect how this game of inches seemed to go against him more often than not.

"Not my year," he said.

Essentially, Wolf signed with the Dodgers because Lowe didn't want to. Lowe raised his record to 11-7 while allowing three runs in six innings.

"This was clearly the first time that I've faced a lot of these guys," said Lowe. "It was definitely good. You look at their lineup and there are zero holes. When you look at that inning, walks hurt me more than anything.  You've got a good base hit up the middle [by Ethier], another walk and the base hit [by Loney] off my shoe.  So when you really look at it, it was one hit and two walks.  Against a lineup like that, walks are going to hurt. 

"It was fun.  Besides three or four guys in that lineup, it was guys that I've never faced, so it was a lot of trial and error. They're very talented and can hurt you."

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