James Loney, Dodgers End Braves’ Nine-Game Winning Streak


LOS ANGELES — James Loney ended
the Atlanta Braves' nine-game winning streak with one clutch swing.

Loney hit a tiebreaking RBI single in
the seventh inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers stopped Atlanta's surge
with a 5-4 victory on Friday night.

Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami gave
up a ground-rule double to Andre Ethier and intentionally walked Manny
before Loney greeted Eric O'Flaherty with his run-scoring single
to center.

Atlanta had tied in the top half of
the inning on Yunel Escobar's two-out, two-run double into left-center
off Hong-Chih Kuo, who came in after starter Clayton Kershaw faltered.

"I walked too many guys and gave them
to many opportunities," Kershaw said. "It was just one of those nights
for me. But it was good for us to get a win against a good team and be
able to judge ourselves against a first-place team and see how we stack
up. Everybody's stepping up right now and we're playing good baseball."

Kuo (1-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings for
the victory and Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect ninth for his 14th
save in 16 chances.

Kawakami (0-8) gave up five runs and
nine hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"He's given us a chance to win —
especially in his last four outings," catcher David Ross said. "He kept
us in the ballgame. I don't think he was quite as sharp early on. He
left some balls up in the zone, missed his spots, and they got to him.
But he really battled tonight without his best stuff.

"Obviously that's a real good lineup
over there and they've got really good pitching, just like we do. So
it's always going to be a fun matchup when we play these guys."

Kershaw was charged with four runs,
three earned, and five hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and
walking five. He was particularly upset about a free pass to Troy Glaus
before Kuo relieved him.

"It was a really frustrating at-bat
with Glaus," Kershaw said. "I mean, you get him 0-2 and you've got to
finish him. It was just my fault — from 0-2 to a walk, that's just
terrible. You can't do that. He's their hottest hitter right now, so
you've got to pitch him careful — but not that careful."

One of the key plays for Kershaw came
in the sixth. Ross drew a leadoff walk and Nate McLouth followed with a
bunt single that third baseman Jamey Carroll had no play on. Kawakami
then came up in an obvious sacrifice situation, but catcher Russell
caught Ross leaning too far off second and picked off the former
Dodgers catcher.

The Dodgers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the
first on Ethier's sacrifice fly and Ronnie Belliard's RBI double. They
added two more in the second when Rafael Furcal hit a run-scoring triple
and scored on Matt Kemp's fly ball to center.

Atlanta came back with two runs in
the third. Escobar singled in Martin Prado with two out. Omar Infante
then scored when Carroll got distracted by Melky Cabrera's broken bat
and misplayed his grounder for an error.

Carroll started at third for the
second straight game because of Casey Blake's back spasms. Blake
underwent an MRI on Friday and is expected to miss at least another
couple of games.

The last time Kershaw and Kawakami
squared off against each other was on Aug. 8, 2009, at Dodger Stadium.
They each pitched seven scoreless innings and the Braves won 2-1 in 10.
That was Kershaw's only other start against Atlanta, and Kawakami's only
other start against Los Angeles.

"From what I saw tonight and from
what he's done in his last four starts, he's pitching a lot better than
an 0-8 record," Kershaw said of Kawakami. "I'm sure he's frustrated that
he's not getting any wins, but he's a better pitcher than that."

The news of former UCLA
basketball coach John Wooden's death at age 99 didn't break until after
the first pitch, so there was no moment of silence. But Dodgers Hall of
Fame announcer Vin Scully spoke directly to the crowd after the sixth
inning by way of a recorded message on the Diamond Vision, and the crowd
of 42,459 gave the beloved Wizard of Westwood a standing ovation. …
The Dodgers and Braves are a major league-best 22-9 since May 1.

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