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Braves bounce back, drop Dodgers

POSTED: July 13, 2008 5:01 a.m.
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Atlanta Braves' Mark Kotsay, right, scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin on a single hit by Braves' Gregor Blanco during the sixth inning Tuesday in Los Angeles.

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LOS ANGELES — Jair Jurrjens pitched six solid innings, batterymate Brian McCann homered twice and Yunel Escobar hit a three-run double, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 9-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

One night after Hiroki Kuroda took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Braves and beat them 3-0 with a one-hitter, Chad Billingsley (8-8) held Atlanta hitless until Kelly Johnson and Mark Kotsay opened the fifth inning with singles. The right-hander walked Gregor Blanco one out later, and Escobar grounded the next pitch over third base to clear the bases and give Atlanta a 3-0 lead.

Jurrjens (9-4) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked three in his Dodger Stadium debut after he was staked to a 6-0 lead. It was the fourth time in five starts that the right-hander allowed fewer than two runs while pitching six or more innings. The only run against him came on a checked-swing RBI double by James Loney with two outs in the sixth.

Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur played his first game since returning from a three-game minor league stint in Double-A Mississippi. He had a single in five at-bats and threw out a base runner in the third inning. The assist was his 51st in the outfield since his big league debut on July 7, 2005, the most in the majors during that stretch.

McCann, heading to his third consecutive All-Star game at the end of this road trip, started Atlanta's three-run sixth with a leadoff homer. Billingsley faced three more batters, departing with one out and runners at the corners.

Ramon Troncoso relieved, and after an out, Blanco hit an RBI single to right. Another run scored on the play after the ball popped out of catcher Russell Martin's glove as he applied the tag on Kotsay.

Umpire Gary Darling originally called Kotsay out, then gave the safe sign when the ball came loose. The error was the second of the game and eighth this season behind the plate for Martin, who won his first Gold Glove last year despite 14 errors. His other error this year was at third base.

Billingsley was charged with six runs — five earned — and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked four and struck out eight.

Mark Teixeira and McCann homered back-to-back against rookie Cory Wade in the ninth for a 9-1 lead. It was the 17th homer of the season for each of them.

Notes:Chipper Jones went 0-for-4 with a season-high three strikeouts, dropping his major league-leading average to .379. Only once since Ralph Garr's 1974 batting title with Atlanta had a Braves player led the NL in hitting. That was in 1991, when current hitting coach Terry Pendleton batted .319 — one point higher than Cincinnati's Hal Morris. "I've been lucky to tutor under T.P. and learn from him," Jones said of Pendleton. "Heck, I remember when I was a rookie having to untie his shoes for him after the games because his back was so messed up and he couldn't bend down to do it. But he really taught me how to play the game, so I'm trying to pay him back by playing some good baseball." ... Pendleton's average remains the second-lowest in history to win an NL batting crown. The lowest belongs to eight-time batting champ Tony Gwynn, who hit .313 in 1988. ... Atlanta has a major league-low 13 saves, and eight different pitchers have at least one.



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