Braves-Dodgers Preview


Both the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers had been among the hottest clubs in the majors before ending their respective weekends in losing fashion.

Given the locale of their upcoming series against each other, the Dodgers may have the best chance to quickly resume their winning ways.

Los Angeles seeks to bounce back from its most-lopsided shutout loss in eight years and improve to 7-0 at Dodger Stadium on Monday night when it opens a three-game set against Atlanta.

The Dodgers (12-4) are tied with Washington for the NL's best record and had won three straight, but failed to record a weekend sweep at Houston after a humbling 12-0 loss Sunday in which they allowed one fewer run than in the first five games of their road trip. Starter Chad Billingsley yielded nine of those runs in 3 1-3 innings of the most-lopsided shutout suffered by Los Angeles since a 13-0 defeat to the Angels in June 2004.

"It's one of those days you just have to forget,'' Billingsley said.

Not even red-hot Matt Kemp was immune to the team's Sunday struggles. The major-league leader with nine homers and 22 RBIs, Kemp went 0 for 3 to snap a 10-game hitting streak and saw his average drop to .450.

Kemp and the Dodgers would appear to have a great chance to get back on track as they open a six-game homestand that will also feature a weekend series with the Nationals. Los Angeles is 6-0 at Chavez Ravine, where it will try to win its first seven home games for just the second time since moving to Southern California but also the second time in four years. The Dodgers opened 13-0 at home in 2009.

Kemp is batting .545 with four homers, eight RBIs and two doubles in six home games.

However, the Dodgers' home wins have come against lesser opponents in Pittsburgh and San Diego. The Braves figure to pose a tougher test.

The Braves (10-6) had won five straight and 10 of 11 before falling 6-4 on Sunday at Arizona. Michael Bourn had three hits, a double and scored twice but it wasn't enough for Atlanta to overcome a five-run second inning by the Diamondbacks highlighted by a Gerardo Parra grand slam.

Still, after taking three of four from the defending NL West champions, the Braves were upbeat.

"This is a good start on our road trip,'' second baseman Dan Uggla said. "It's really hard to beat a team four times.''

Jair Jurrjens (0-1, 8.10 ERA) will get the ball for Atlanta in the series opener, looking to overcome his rough start to the season. The right-hander has failed to last longer than five innings in any of his three outings while surrendering five homers in 13 1-3 frames and allowing opponents to bat .362. He gave up four runs, seven hits and four walks in four innings Wednesday, but didn't get a decision as the Braves outslugged the Mets 14-6.

Jurrjens has usually been effective against the Dodgers, going 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA in six starts while limiting Los Angeles to a single run in four of those outings.

Kemp is 4 for 14 with a homer against Jurrjens, but has struck out seven times. Fellow Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier is 5 for 11 with seven walks in their matchups.

Probable Dodgers starter Chris Capuano (1-0, 4.50) seeks a third straight quality start as he takes the hill for the fourth time in 2012. The left-hander gave up two runs over six innings at Milwaukee on Wednesday, a game Los Angeles eventually lost 3-2 in 10 innings.

Uggla is 3 for 16 (.188) with 11 strikeouts against Capuano.

The Dodgers went 5-2 in last season's series with Atlanta, taking three of four at home.