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Bats Silent As Braves Fall To Dodgers, 2-1

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In a game between two teams who can't seem to get a clutch hit, it's kind of fitting that all 3 runs scored on outs. The Dodgers got on the board first, but it wasn't exactly a highlight-reel play: Matt Kemp hit into a double-play with runners on the corners and no outs in the fourth inning. It sure wasn't a clutch hit, but it did produce an important run.

That would be the only run that Braves starter Derek Lowe would give up in his six innings of work. Lowe gave up 10 hits and walked 1 man (intentionally), which meant he was constantly pitching with runners on base. He seemed to thrive under that pressure though--he induced two double-plays and struck out several batters in key spots (he finished with 4 Ks). His best job of pitching out of a jam came in the fifth inning, when he had runners on second and third with no outs. He struck out Ryan Theriot, and after the intentional walk, got James Loney to ground into an easy double play to end the inning.

Lowe's sinker was working all night, as he induced 16 ground balls out of 21 balls in play (76%). He had some bad luck, though, as many of the hits off of him were just bleeders that found a hole. He pitched well enough to win the game, for sure, but as we've all been very aware lately, you can't get a win if your team won't score for you.

The Dodgers added another run off of Everyday Jonny Venters in the 7th inning on an Andre Ethier sacrifice fly. Kyle Farnsworth and Takashi Saito looked great in the 8th and 9th, respectively, each striking out 2 Dodgers in perfect innings.

Ted Lilly was great all night for the Dodgers; he kept the Braves off balance masterfully, giving up no runs and only 5 baserunners (3 hits and 2 walks) in his 6 innings of work. He weirdly (for him) got more ground balls than fly balls (7 to 5), and benefitted from some good luck (Melky Cabrera, Jason Heyward, and Alex Gonzalez all smoked balls off of Lilly that ended up being caught), but he pitched very well, too. He struck out four. 

Down 2-0 late, the Braves did finally muster a bit of a comeback once LIlly left the game. In the seventh against Kenley Jansen, Matt Diaz led off with a walk. One out later, Melky Cabrera smoked a double down the left-field line to put runners on second and third. It was the Braves' first hit with a runner on base in the series (in more than 20 opportunities). That brought up David Ross, who hit a grounder to third to score Diaz and cut the lead to 2-1.

Unfortunately, the Braves went 1-2-3 in both the 8th and 9th (off of Octavio Dotel and newly minted closer Hong-Chih Kuo), and that was the ballgame. Braves lose 2-1.

It was really too bad. In addition to wasting another excellent pitching performance, the Braves disappointed a sellout crowd of more than 49,000 folks, the second-largest crowd of the season. And, of course, the Phillies won behind Roy Halladay, so our division lead is back to 2 games.

Oh well. We've got Jair Jurrjens going tomorrow afternoon against Vicente Padilla. Maybe we can break out some offense against Padilla.

MVP
Ted Lilly-- 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 0.365 WPA

Honorable Mention
Octavio Dotel-- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0.205 WPA
Hong-Chih Kuo-- 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0.180 WPA
Scott Podsednik-- 3/5, R, CS, 2 K, 0.084 WPA

LVP
I hate to say it, but it's the Raw Dog (Brooks Conrad)-- 0/4, 2 K, -0.167 WPA

MVPs in a Losing Effort
Derek Lowe-- 6 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 BB (1 IBB), 4 K, 16/21 GB (76%), 0.153 WPA
Melky Cabrera-- 1/3, 2B, 0.103 WPA
Omar Infante-- 2/4, SB, K, 0.036 WPA

Stat of the Game
After two games of this series, neither team has driven in a runner on base with a hit. The 4 runs have scored on a solo homer, a double play, a sacrifice fly, and a groundout. Yay offense.

Clutch Play
Melky's double to set up the Braves' only run (0.150 WPA)... Fitting that the most clutch play in this game didn't even score a run.

Unclutch Play
Loney grounding into an inning-ending, bases-loaded double play (-0.147 WPA)