Braves-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

Although the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers boast two of the NL's top offenses, runs could be at a premium Wednesday.

Atlanta's Brandon Beachy and Los Angeles' Ted Lilly are each off to impressive starts, and they'll square off in the series finale at what could be a rainy Dodger Stadium.

Beachy (2-1, 0.47 ERA) has the majors' best ERA and has allowed four hits or fewer in each of his first three outings. The right-hander gave up four hits and a walk while striking out five in 7 1-3 scoreless innings of a 9-1 victory Friday at Arizona.

"I don't know how long it will continue, but I'll enjoy it for now," Beachy told the Braves' official website.

Lilly (2-0, 0.69) has been nearly as sharp in his two starts after opening the season on the disabled list with neck stiffness.

After allowing an unearned run and two hits in seven innings of a 6-1 win over San Diego on April 14, the left-hander yielded one run and four hits over six innings in Friday's 3-1 victory at Houston. He did walk six Astros - his most in a game since 2006 - but manager Don Mattingly wasn't too concerned, citing a tight strike zone by home plate umpire Tom Hallion.

Lilly, who has posted a 0.54 ERA in winning five straight starts dating to last season, is trying to open with three consecutive victories for the first time in his 13-plus year career.

This, however, certainly figures to be his toughest assignment thus far - assuming the weather doesn't preclude a rare Dodger Stadium rainout. The Braves (11-7) lead the NL with 97 runs and are tied for second with 21 homers.

In Tuesday's 4-3 win over the West-leading Dodgers (13-5), Chipper Jones homered on his 40th birthday and Martin Prado had two RBIs - including the go-ahead run-scoring triple in the ninth inning.

"Martin Prado gave me my birthday present. That was the best one of the day," said Jones, who is playing in his 19th and final big league season. "It's been a fun ride, and it's great to have my last birthday in the big leagues turn out the right way."

Prado's hit lifted Atlanta to its 10th victory in 13 games and sent Los Angeles to its first loss at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers, who averaged 5.1 runs in their first seven games at Chavez Ravine, possess one of the league's most dangerous lineups with Matt Kemp batting third followed by Andre Ethier.

Kemp, who has hit safely in all but two games, leads the majors with a .455 batting average and nine homers and is tied with Ethier for the major league lead with 22 RBIs.

Neither, however, has enjoyed much success in small samples against Beachy, who went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers last season as a rookie. Kemp is hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts and two walks against Beachy, while Ethier is 1 for 5 with a double.

Lilly has enjoyed similar success shutting down the Braves, going 5-0 with a 2.52 ERA in seven starts against them since suffering a loss while pitching for Oakland in 2003.

He has limited Jones to three hits in 13 career at-bats, while six-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann has three singles in 12.

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