Braves 6, Dodgers 4
ATLANTA (AP)—Jarrod Saltalamacchia found a way to cap his charmed first week in the major leagues.
Called up on his 22nd birthday Wednesday, Saltalamacchia made his second start Sunday, had his first hit and then drove in the go-ahead run with his first RBI to help the Atlanta Braves rally for a 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With two outs, two runners on base and the game tied at 4 in the seventh inning, Saltalamacchia came to the plate in what looked to be a pressure situation.
Instead, the rookie catcher said “That was the most calm I’ve ever felt.”
One reason: Saltalamacchia was facing Dodgers reliever Chad Billingsley, an old friend from south Florida.
Saltalamacchia, from West Palm Beach, said he often caught Billingsley, who lives in Vero Beach, in youth baseball.
“I caught Chad growing up … Junior Olympics, 18-and-under, summer leagues, stuff like that,” Saltalamacchia said, adding the two played together for three years.
“I knew he had a hard fastball and good stuff, so I was sitting on a fastball. I knew he wanted to throw it past me.”
Saltalamacchia hit a fastball to right field for a single to drive in Andruw Jones, giving the rookie a highlight to top his first hit in the sixth.
The Dodgers had been 15-0 when leading after six innings, but Chin-hui Tsao gave up five runs in the seventh as the Braves sent 10 batters to the plate.
Tsao had given up only one hit and no runs in 10 2-3 innings before being charged with three hits, two walks and five runs.
“I guess we all get spoiled,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “It’s been lights out with that bullpen. … (Tsao) made a couple of mislocated pitches.”
Tsao then looked like he might get out of the inning when he recorded a big strikeout of pinch-hitter Chipper Jones, who tried to check his swing, for the second out. Jones and manager Bobby Cox were ejected from the game while arguing the ruling by third base umpire Bob Davidson.
“Bob Davidson feels like all these thousands of people who come to the park come to see him,” Jones said. “That’s the way he always has been. It’s a joke among us players.
“But the fact of the matter is we overcame bad officiating by the third base umpire and the home plate umpire (Sam Holbrook) and we still won. So I’m proud of our guys.”
“We made a nice comeback against one of the top bullpens,” Cox said.
Saltalamacchia was 2-for-4 and threw out two baserunners. He was called up when Atlanta’s backup, Brayan Pena, was placed on the disabled list with a concussion and 2006 All-Star Brian McCann was slowed by a sore finger.
Los Angeles rookie third baseman Andy LaRoche, called up Sunday, started and hit a fifth-inning double for his first career hit.
“I just wish it could have ended better,” LaRoche said.
Wilson Betemit, who lost his starting job to LaRoche, hit his second pinch-hit home run in two days, a two-run drive to right in the seventh inning.
Betemit also had a pinch-hit homer—his first of the year—in the Dodgers’ 6-3 win Saturday. He is the first Dodgers player to hit pinch-hit homers in back-to-back games since Todd Benzinger in 1992.
Atlanta’s Kyle Davies gave up four runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Chad Paronto (2-0) was credited with the last out in the seventh for the win. The out came when Saltalamacchia threw out Rafael Furcal trying to steal second base. Mike Gonzalez pitched the ninth for his first save.
Los Angeles starter Randy Wolf gave up one run and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked two.
A two-out single by Matt Diaz gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the first.
Renteria extended his hitting streak to 15 games with the first-inning single. … C Lieberthal was able to remain in the game after being hit on the left side of his head by Andruw Jones’ bat in the first inning. … 3B Chipper Jones was used only as a pinch hitter after starting 29 straight games. Woodward was the fill-in starter. … Saltalamacchia hit a bloop single to right in the sixth for his first major league hit.