Hyun-Jin Ryu managed to throw 5.2 innings before being removed with a right gluteus muscle strain. The outing was Ryu’s shortest since he went 2.1 innings against the Detroit Tigers on July 8.
Despite losing their starter, the Dodgers were in line to tie or take the lead in the ninth inning as they loaded the bases with one out. Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel then got Matt Kemp to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The win was not only the first of the series for the Braves, but also the first against the Dodgers this season. The Dodgers had won the first five meetings and now must win Thursday to claim another series.
The loss, coupled with the San Francisco Giants winning, closed the Dodgers’ lead in the division to 5.0 games. The Dodgers and Giants have seemingly been trending in opposite directions, but A.J. Ellis spoke of the team needing to keep their foot on the pedal, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
I don’t think we’re at that ‘cushion’ stage yet. We’re still in the building phase,” Ellis said. “We just want to keep on winning games, keep on winning series.”
After sweeping both the Giants and Braves in late July, the Dodgers have won just one of their three series since. Included in that was dropping two of three at home to the Chicago Cubs, who are the NL Central’s last-place team.
Although the Dodgers lost, Ellis arguably had his best game in over a month. He finished the night 2-for-4 with a double and hit the ball hard in each of his at-bats. Manager Don Mattingly recently touched on Ellis’ struggles and expressed optimism the catcher would begin to contribute.
The Dodgers are now 5-1 this season against the Braves and play their 2013 NLDS opponent for the final time this season Thursday. As for the Giants, the Dodgers have a three-game set at AT&T Park in mid-September and then face their long-time rival for another three-game series at Chavez Ravine from Sept. 22-24.
Dodgers Dugout Bubble Parties Will Continue