Atlanta (69-51) at Los Angeles (70-50)

Fair Currently: Los Angeles, CA
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 10:10 pm EDT Fri Aug 20, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Pitching in front of the home crowd brings out the best in Jose Lima.

He’ll look to continue his strong pitching at Dodger Stadium when Los Angeles continues a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves.

Lima has provided a huge boost for the Dodgers since securing a spot in the starting rotation at the end of May. The Dominican right-hander has won five straight decisions and seven of his last eight to improve to 11-3 with a 4.06 ERA.

Lima has thrived at Dodger Stadium, going 7-1 with a 3.39 ERA in 15 home games, including 10 starts.

While Lima has been getting the job done of late, closer Eric Gagne has suddenly become very hittable.

Adam Laroche’s run-scoring single off Gagne in the ninth inning gave the Braves a 6-5 win over Los Angeles on Thursday. Gagne’s record dropped to 4-3 one night after he blew a save in the Dodgers’ 6-4 loss to the Florida Marlins.

Last season’s NL Cy Young Award winner allowed four runs in the ninth inning against the Marlins.

Gagne has 142 saves over the past three seasons, tying Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for the most in a three-year span. Eckersley did it from 1990-92.

The Dodgers bullpen, once a team strength, has been on shaky ground since Los Angeles traded setup man Guillermo Mota to Florida on July 30. Mota’s replacement, Darren Dreifort, was lost for the season with a knee injury earlier this week, forcing Los Angeles to search for healthy arms.

Los Angeles holds a 4 1/2 -game lead over second-place San Francisco in the NL West.

Atlanta has taken charge in the NL East, opening a commanding 8 1/2 game lead over the second- place Marlins.

Catcher Johnny Estrada homered and drove in three runs to lead the Braves to their third win in four games Thursday. John Smoltz pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 34 chances. It was the 142nd save of his career, breaking Gene Garber’s franchise record.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Thomson KC vs. J. Lima NYM
14-8 Record 13-5
3.72 ERA 4.07
133 K 93
52 BB 34
1.32 WHIP 1.24