Atlanta (55-54) at Los Angeles (67-42)

Fair Currently: Los Angeles, CA
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 10:10 pm EDT Fri Aug 7, 2009
  • TV: SPSO, PRIME
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Although they own baseball’s best record, the Los Angeles Dodgers were going through a bit of a funk and in need of an inspiring victory.

Thanks to another clutch hit from Andre Ethier(notes), they got that win.

The Dodgers hope to carry some momentum from a thrilling comeback victory in the series opener into Friday night against the Atlanta Braves.

Los Angeles (67-42) has a comfortable 6 1/2-game lead over second-place San Francisco in the NL West, but entered Thursday’s series opener with the Braves (55-54) just 4-7 since July 26.

Trailing 4-2 in the ninth inning Thursday, Los Angeles appeared to be on its way to another frustrating loss, but Ethier quickly changed that with one swing.

With no outs and two on, Ethier drove a 2-0 pitch of Braves closer Rafael Soriano(notes) to right field for his 23rd homer to lift the Dodgers to a 5-4 victory.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit to play consistently and get back on track,” said Ethier, who raised his team-leading RBI total to 72 - five shy of his career best set last season.

Thursday’s late-inning heroics was nothing new for Ethier, who leads the majors with five walkoff hits.

“He’s been incredible in that situation,” manager Joe Torre said. “This kid hasn’t really played a lot of major league baseball. And to just have that kind of calm in those situations is pretty special.

It also wasn’t the first time he left Braves’ pitchers feeling frustrated.

Los Angeles won two of three in Atlanta last weekend, and Ethier is 9 for 19 (.474) with three home runs and eight RBIs in the four games against the Braves in the last week.

Chad Billingsley(notes) (11-6, 3.82 ERA) had and impressive win in Atlanta his last time out and tries to win his second straight over the Braves when he takes the ball.

After giving up six runs and a season-high six walks in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-0 loss at St. Louis on July 28, Billingsley allowed two hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in five scoreless innings of a 9-1 win over the Braves on Sunday. Billingsley’s right hamstring began to cramp and as a precaution, Torre didn’t let him go out for the sixth. Billingsley isn’t worried about it affecting this start.

Walks have been a problem for Billingsley, who is fifth in the majors with 63. But when he is able to limit the number of free passes - like he did against Atlanta - he is usually more effective. The right-hander has a 4.12 ERA in 13 starts when giving up three or more walks, compared to a 3.41 ERA in the 10 starts he has issued two walks or fewer.

The Braves counter with Jair Jurrjens(notes) (9-8, 2.85), who opposes Billingsley for the second straight start.

Jurrjens took the loss Sunday against the Dodgers, giving up four runs - all in the fifth - and a season-high 10 hits in five innings. The right-hander had gone 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA in his four previous starts.

While Jurrjens didn’t have much luck against Los Angeles in Atlanta, he hopes things go better at Dodger Stadium. In his only career start at Chavez Ravine on July 8, 2008, Jurrjens gave up one run and five hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 9-3 win.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Jurrjens Col vs. C. Billingsley Phi
14-10 Record 12-11
2.60 ERA 4.03
152 K 179
75 BB 86
1.21 WHIP 1.32

Scoreboard

Friday, Aug 7