Juan Francisco celebrates as he heads to first on a game-winning pinch-hit… (Scott Cunningham / Getty…)
ATLANTA — The Dodgers were handed their 55th loss of the season Friday night. But this one seemed to sting more than most.
The Dodgers' clubhouse was particularly quiet after their 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves in 11 innings, the main sound coming from the postgame fireworks show above at Turner Field.
Brandon League, the Dodgers' reliever who took the loss, spoke softly as he described how the game got away after his club took a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning.
"A loss is difficult, but it hurts a little more when you have the lead," League said. "Especially with what we went through yesterday, a win would have been great."
League was referring to how the Dodgers also lost Thursday, to the Pittsburgh Pirates, in a heated game that featured three Dodgers being ejected.
The Dodgers had hoped to leave all that behind with a win in the opener of their three-game series with Atlanta, a matchup that might be revisited in the playoffs.
But after Dodgers starting pitcher Chris Capuano pitched well through seven innings, the left-hander and the Dodgers' bullpen could not secure the win.
"That was a really frustrating game," said Manager Don Mattingly, whose team dropped into second place in the National League West, a half game behind San Francisco Giants, who won later Friday.
League (0-6), who recently was traded to the Dodgers from the Seattle Mariners, got out of a jam after being called into the game in the 10th inning with the score tied 3-3. He also retired the first two batters in the 11th inning.
But then David Ross singled and took third base on Paul Janish's single. Mattingly replaced League with Jamey Wright, who gave up a single to pinch-hitter Juan Francisco that scored the winning run.
League, who's been struggling with his trademark sinking fastball that's intended to induce ground balls, took the blame.
"My fastball felt great until Ross," League said. "My sinker went from being where it needed to be to being flat. The ground balls turned into line-drive hits.
"I'm working every day with the pitching coach and trying to get it to where it's consistent every pitch," he added.
Capuano gave up a home run to Chipper Jones in the second inning. But the Dodgers took a 3-1 lead after Andre Ethier hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning off Braves starter Tommy Hanson, and Luis Cruz and Shane Victorino hit doubles in the seventh inning for another run.
It was Ethier's first home run since July 14 and only his third since May 21.
But in the eighth inning, Janish singled, as did pinch-hitter and former Dodger Reed Johnson. Janish moved to third base on Michael Bourn's sacrifice bunt, Mattingly replaced Capuano with reliever Ronald Belisario.
Martin Prado then grounded out to score Janish and Jason Heyward singled in Johnson, tying the score, 3-3.