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Dodgers fall, 4-3, to Braves in 11th as bullpen struggles

August 17, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Chipper Jones follows through on his home run in the second inning against the Dodgers.
Chipper Jones follows through on his home run in the second inning against… (Hyosub Shin / MCT )

That’s one of those lovely decisions that has to go just right for a manager to emerge unscathed.

Tie game on the road, a rested closer in the bullpen, game on the line and he … does what? Typically they save him for a save situation. Play to win and then have their closer ready to go.

Only too often the game is on the line earlier, and the closer just watches from the bullpen as the game is lost, as it happened Friday.

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly kept Kenley Jansen in reserve, while the rest of the bullpen faltered in the 11-inning, 4-3 loss to the Braves at Turner Field.

With two outs in the 11th, struggling Brandon League gave up a pair of singles. Mattingly then called on Jamey Wright, who surrendered a game-winning single to pinch-hitter Juan Francisco.

This after the Dodgers had blown a 3-1 lead in the eighth.

Left-hander Chris Capuano seemed on his way to his second consecutive outstanding start, but found himself trailing, 1-0, through five innings, having given up a solo home run to Chipper Jones in the second. Jones had two homers Thursday against the Padres.

Then Mark Ellis led off the sixth with a double against Tommy Hanson, and after Matt Kemp lined out, Andre Ethier reunited with an old friend.

Ethier absolutely crushed his 12th home run of the season. The two-run shot was his first home run in 30 games, since he last hit one July 14 against the Padres.

Ethier hit 31 home runs in 2009 and was leading the National League in home runs the next season when he broke his right pinkie on May 14.

After a solid power start this season, Ethier had hit only one homer since returning from the disabled list with a strained rib cage on July 13.

The Dodgers pushed their lead to 3-1 in the seventh on doubles by Luis Cruz and Shane Victorino.

The way Capuano was cruising – he threw only 66 pitches through six innings – it almost qualified as a comfortable lead.

But the Braves led off the eighth with singles from Paul Janish and Reed Johnson. After Michael Bourne’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, the Dodgers elected to lift Capuano in favor of reliever Ronald Belisario.

It was not going to be a great night for the bullpen.

Belisario came in with a 6.88 earned-run average in his last 16 appearances, and then let both inherited runners score. Janish scored on a Martin Prado groundout and then Jayson Heyward tied it at 3-3 with a single to center.

Belisario did strike out the side in the ninth.

Capuano left without a decision, getting charged with the three runs. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out eight. His current ERA of 3.14 is more than a full run lower than his career average (4.22).

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