Dodgers 12, Braves 5

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ATLANTA (AP)—Los Angeles manager Grady Little said pulling Brad Penny out of the game in the fifth inning was the key to the Dodgers’ win Monday.

Tell that to Penny.

After Penny was battered by six straight hits and four runs in the inning, the Dodgers pulled away late for a 12-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves. Ramon Martinez hit a three-run homer and finished with five RBIs for Los Angeles.

Penny was given an 8-1 lead but was pulled before qualifying for the win after the Braves closed to 8-5. Penny complained about the decision on the mound, in the dugout and after the game.

“It was the first jam I get in all year and I don’t get a chance to get out of it,” said Penny, who voiced his displeasure with Little on the mound before taking a swing at a water cooler with a bat in the dugout and yelling in anger.

“I wanted a chance to get that inning out of the way,” Penny said, adding “I’m out there pitching hurt. … I don’t appreciate not getting the chance with a three-run lead to finish the inning.”

Little said Penny’s objections “will be addressed, but not today.”

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Penny’s tirade “is not the professional way to handle it, by any means.”

Little said Penny is a competitor and didn’t fault him for wanting to stay in the game, but defended his decision to pull him.

“My job was to try to win the game and the move that we made right there was in the best interest of trying to win the game,” Little said.

Los Angeles scored seven runs in the first two innings, knocking Braves starter John Thomson out of the game early.

Thomson (2-4) recorded only four outs before he was pulled by Bobby Cox, but he said he agreed with Cox’s move. It was Thomson’s shortest start since June 9, 2004, at Detroit, when he lasted only one inning for the Braves in a rain-delayed game.

Thomson said when Martinez hit a run-scoring single on his last pitch in the second inning he thought the Dodgers were seeing the ball pretty well off of him.

“Right there that’s when Bobby came and got me,” Thomson said.

Thomson gave up seven runs, five earned, and seven hits with three walks but, according to Cox, “actually pitched good.”

“He’s not going to get any more groundballs than he got,” Cox said. “They weren’t hit hard enough basically for anyone to make plays on them.”

After leading the NL with a 1.88 ERA through his first eight games, including six starts, Thomson’s ERA is now 4.06. He has allowed 15 earned runs in his last three starts.

Joe Beimel (2-0) pitched 1 2-3 perfect innings in relief of Penny to earn the win.

Thomson gave up singles to Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton to open the game and then the next five batters reached base without hitting the ball out of the infield. The defense hurt Thomson with throwing errors by Edgar Renteria, Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur, and two of the four runs in the first inning were unearned.

An infield single by Nomar Garciaparra drove in the first run, and J.D. Drew, Matt Kemp and Willy Aybar reached on fielder’s choice grounders. Renteria made a wild toss toward second base after fielding Drew’s grounder, allowing Lofton to score.

Garciaparra came around on Jones’ errant throw to the plate on Aybar’s grounder to make it 3-0, and Russell Martin added a sacrifice fly.

Furcal, the former Braves shortstop, had two hits and scored two runs in his first game in Atlanta with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers added three runs in the second on run-scoring singles by Garciaparra and Martinez and a sacrifice fly by Kemp. Martinez hit a run-scoring single in the fourth to make it 8-1.

In the fifth inning, Penny gave up three straight doubles to Todd Pratt, Matt Diaz and Marcus Giles, followed by three straight singles to Renteria, Jones and Wilson Betemit.

Penny gave up nine hits and a season-high five runs in 4 1-3 innings, his shortest start of the year.

Penny has had two MRIs this month for lower back discomfort and said he complained about a sore shoulder after his last start.

Drew opened the sixth with a high infield popup that Giles and first baseman Adam LaRoche lost in the sun for an infield double. Kemp followed with a single to drive in Drew.

Martinez hit a three-run drive in the ninth inning for his first homer of the season.

The Braves had a four-game winning streak end.


Kemp had his first major league RBI with his second-inning sacrifice fly and his first stolen base following a fourth-inning walk. … Los Angeles 2B Jeff Kent was held out for the second straight day with a sprained left wrist, but Drew returned after missing two games with a sore shoulder. … The Braves wore red shirts that previously had been reserved for Sunday home games. … Playing their 51st game, the Braves played their major league-low 19th home game as they opened a 10-game homestand.

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