ATLANTA — Alex Wood believes he’s discovered something that was missing in the first half of the season.
“I moved back over the first-base side (of the rubber),” Wood said. “It just feels like the ball’s coming out of my hand a lot better. I feel like my action is back.”
Chris Johnson drove in two runs, Wood overcame control problems on a hot night and the Atlanta Braves beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Tuesday night.
The Braves, who had lost seven of nine overall, improved to 18-6 at home in games decided by two runs or fewer.
Wood (7-6) had allowed just six homers this season but gave up two in the first six batters he faced. Justin Turner made it 1-0 in the first with his 12th homer and Yasiel Puig forced a 2-2 tie in the second with his fifth homer.
Though he pitched behind in the count for much of the night — throwing just 59 of his 107 pitches for strikes — Wood won for just the second time in seven starts at home this year. The left-hander gave up six hits, three runs, four walks and struck out three in 6 2/3 innings.
No longer pitching from the middle or the third-base side of the rubber, Wood was particularly efficient after allowing the first two batters to reach in the sixth, retiring Puig on a flyout and striking out Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes.
“For three, four innings, his stuff was marginal at best,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “But he rises to the occasion. He competes.”
Jason Frasor and Luis Avilan recorded the next four outs before closer Jim Johnson faced the minimum in the ninth to earn his eighth save in 11 chances.
The NL West-leading Dodgers have lost consecutive games for the first time since June 22-23 at the Chicago Cubs.
It was a night to forget for Los Angeles.
Starter Brett Anderson left the game in the third after irritating his left Achilles tendon. Former Dodger Juan Uribe drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth with a bloop single.
And manager Don Mattingly, who tried unsuccessfully to have a tag play overturned three innings earlier, was ejected by home plate umpire James Hoye after a heated argument in the eighth.
Turner, likely still disturbed that he hadn’t drawn a walk, appeared to exchange words with Hoye as he jogged back to the dugout after grounding out. That prompted Mattingly to come out.
“He ejected me because, really, I’d seen him coming after Justin, which I didn’t like, because we knew it was a ball,” Mattingly said. “And then I was really not going to allow him to come across the field. When he started walking toward Justin, I’m going to have to come out at that point.”
Atlanta took a 2-1 lead in the first on Nick Markakis’ infield single and Johnson’s groundout.
The Braves went ahead 3-2 in the third when Markakis tripled for the first time this year and scored on Johnson’s single.
Los Angeles tied it at 3-all in the fifth. Reliever Chin-hui Tsao, who replaced Anderson, led off with a double and scored from third on Howie Kendrick’s single.
Tsao (1-1) was chased in the fifth after giving up consecutive singles to Markakis and Johnson. Markakis scored from third to put the Braves up 4-3 on Uribe’s bloop single into shallow center field.
Tsao gave up two hits, one run, one walk and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings.
Anderson, who left trailing 3-2, allowed five hits, three runs, two walks and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings.
BEEN A WHILE
Tsao hit a ground-rule double in the fifth on the first pitch. It was his first at-bat in 12 years and his first hit since 2003 when he and the Colorado Rockies were playing the Braves.
Dodgers: Anderson will be reevaluated on Wednesday. … OF Carl Crawford, out since April 28 with a torn oblique, was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list and pinch-ran in the eighth.
Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman, on the disabled list with a bruised right wrist, took live batting practice for the first time since June 17. Gonzalez said Freeman will likely go to the team’s spring training facility in Orlando on Wednesday, adding the Braves hope he will return for a four-game series beginning July 30 at Philadelphia.
Dodgers: RHP Mike Bolsinger (4-3) has one career start against Atlanta, losing 10-4 on July 5, 2014, while with Arizona.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (6-4) is 0-3 with a 6.86 ERA in three career starts against Los Angeles.