McCann’s 2 homers help Braves top Dodgers 9-3
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Brian McCann did everything possible to make things easier for batterymate Jair Jurrjens. He guided the right-hander through six solid innings and supported him with two solo home runs.
The biggest hit for Atlanta, however, was a three-run double by Yunel Escobar in the fifth inning. It broke a scoreless tie and sparked the Braves to a 9-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
“Escobar had the big hit, obviously, and it kind of just started rolling from there,” McCann said. “If we can keep putting together at-bats like we did tonight, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
One night after Hiroki Kuroda took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Braves and beat them 3-0 with a one-hitter, Chad Billingsley (8-8) held Atlanta hitless until Kelly Johnson and Mark Kotsay opened the fifth inning with singles. One out later, he walked Gregor Blanco, and Escobar grounded the next pitch over third base to clear the bases.
“Their pitching staff was dominating us for 13 innings, so obviously we knew that we needed to try and come up with a couple of hits and try to put something together to get some momentum offensively,” said Kotsay, who was 3-for-4. “Fortunately, it happened for us in the fifth inning and we broke through. Sometimes it just takes a couple of hits to get it going. Offense is contagious.”
Jurrjens (9-4) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked three in his Dodger Stadium debut. The only run against the right-hander came on a checked-swing RBI double by James Loney with two outs in the sixth.
“He threw hard tonight and threw a lot of pitches (103) for six innings,” manager Bobby Cox said. “I was hoping he could go one more, but he threw 119 in his last start, so we wanted to get him out of there. He’s only 22 years old, so it was the right thing to do.”
It was the fourth time in five starts Jurrjens allowed fewer than two earned runs while pitching six or more innings.
“I can’t describe how good he’s been all year long,” McCann said. “He was hurt for three starts with a blister when he probably shouldn’t even have been out there, but he wanted the ball. He’s only 22, but he has ace written all over him.”
Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur played his first game since returning from a three-game minor league stint in Double-A Mississippi. He had a single in five at-bats and threw out a base runner in the third. The assist was his 51st in the outfield since his big league debut on July 7, 2005, the most in the majors during that stretch.
McCann, heading to his third consecutive All-Star game at the end of this road trip, led off Atlanta’s three-run sixth with a homer. Billingsley faced three more batters, departing with one out and runners at the corners.
“The first four innings I was able to get ahead of hitters,” Billingsley said. “After that, I was getting down 1-0, 2-0, and they made me throw a hitter’s pitch. It’s tough to pitch like that. I was battling myself out there the last couple of innings. It’s a matter of being consistent, and today was a rough one.”
Umpire Gary Darling originally called Kotsay out, then gave the safe sign when the ball came loose. The error was the second of the game and eighth this season for Martin, who won his first Gold Glove last year despite 14 errors. His other error this year was at third base.
Billingsley was charged with six runs—five earned—and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked four and struck out eight.
Chipper Jones went 0-for-4 with a season-high three strikeouts, dropping his major league-leading average to .379. Only once since Ralph Garr’s 1974 batting title with Atlanta had a Brave led the NL in hitting. That was in 1991, when current hitting coach Terry Pendleton batted .319. … Pendleton’s average remains the second-lowest in history to win an NL batting crown. The lowest belongs to eight-time batting champ Tony Gwynn, who hit .313 in 1988. … Atlanta has a major league-low 13 saves with eight pitchers having at least one.