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Braves end Dodgers' perfect home run, 4-3

Juan Rivera is injured after hitting a long home run, and Matt Kemp can't make a tough play in the ninth inning.

April 24, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Matt Kemp crashed face-first into the wall in right-center field. The baseball dropped.

Tyler Pastornicky scored on Martin Prado's ninth-inning triple off closer Javy Guerra, condemning the Dodgers to their first home loss of the season, a 4-3 defeat to the Atlanta Braves.

"I guess it was bound to happen," Guerra said. "I hate to be a part of it."

But more than a game was lost Tuesday night.

Juan Rivera hit his first home run of the season in the first inning, only to limp off the field five innings later with what was described by the club as a strained hamstring. Rivera, who has alternated between hitting fourth and fifth in the lineup, pulled up halfway down the first base line on an infield single.

Manager Don Mattingly didn't know how long Rivera would be out. But Mattingly said, "We don't feel like he's going to walk in here and be ready to play tomorrow."

A prolonged absence by Rivera could further thin out an offense that is already overly dependent on Kemp and Andre Ethier, who have combined for 13 of the Dodgers' 16 home runs.

Rivera's home run to left field was only the 20th fair ball to land in Dodger Stadium's loge level. The monstrous shot put the Dodgers ahead, 2-0.

Dodgers starter Aaron Harang held the Braves scoreless through the first four innings, but ran into serious trouble in the fifth.

The inning started with a home run by Chipper Jones, who was the subject of a video board tribute earlier in the game. Jones, who turned 40 on this night, announced last month that he would retire at the end of the season.

"His swing's still pretty, isn't it?" Mattingly asked.

The home run was the 13th of Jones' 19-year career at Dodger Stadium. It might have also been Jones' last. Because of a troublesome left knee, Jones has played in only 10 of the Braves' 18 games. The series finale on Wednesday will be the Braves' final game of the season at Dodger Stadium.

The Braves tied the scored at 2-2 later in the inning, as Prado's bases-loaded groundout drove in Jason Heyward.

The visitors moved ahead in the sixth inning. Brian McCann hit a leadoff single to right, which was followed by a walk by Dan Uggla. Harang got Jones to hit into a double play that moved McCann to third. Only an out removed from getting out of the inning unscathed, Harang threw a wild pitch that skipped past catcher A.J. Ellis and allowed McCann to score.

The Braves were up, 3-2.

The Dodgers responded immediately, as Dee Gordon and Mark Ellis led off the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back singles.

Kemp hit a potential double play grounder that resulted in a forceout at second base. But second baseman Uggla's throw to first baseman Freddie Freeman missed its intended target. As Freeman retrieved the ball, the fleet-footed Gordon rounded third and scored.

Kemp also thought he could capitalize on the Braves' mistake, which was a mistake. Down the right-field line, he took a step into fair territory and was tagged by Freeman before walking back to first base. He was called safe at first, but the Braves argued and the umpires changed the call.

Guerra entered the game in the ninth inning with the score tied, 3-3. He was a strike away from sending the game into extra innings but Prado extended the at-bat by fouling off three pitches and taking a ball. Prado then lifted a high 1-2 fastball over the head of Kemp, who got his glove on the ball but couldn't hold on.

"I have to make a better pitch," Guerra said. "I can't expect him to make that play. I have to take the blame on that one."

The loss was the second of the season for Guerra, who has also blown a save.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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