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Preview: Dodgers at Braves

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 14 2014 01:58:23 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 14 2014 01:58:23 AM CDT

The top three pitchers in Los Angeles' starting rotation have combined to win 39 games, but with Wednesday's injury to Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers could use a strong outing from Roberto Hernandez in the finale of a four-game series at the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. Los Angeles holds a comfortable five-game lead in the National League West but has lost Josh Beckett to a season-ending hip injury and saw Ryu leave a 3-2 loss with a strained right gluteus muscle. The Braves won a one-run decision for just the second time in their last 11 contests decided by a lone run.Atlanta has not won often enough over the last two weeks, going 3-11 to drop five games behind first-place Washington in the NL East, and manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Jason Heyward into the leadoff spot Wednesday. Heyward finished 1-for-4 while Freddie Freeman went 2-for-3, giving him hits in eight of his last 10 games to bump his average to .290. Carl Crawford has recorded eight hits in the first three games of the series.TV: 12:10 p.m. ET, SportsNet (Los Angeles), SportSouth (Atlanta) PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Roberto Hernandez (6-8, 3.83 ERA) vs. Braves RH Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.31)Hernandez won his Los Angeles debut Friday in Milwaukee, giving up two runs on three hits in six innings. It continued a strong stretch the 33-year-old began prior to his trade from Philadelphia, during which he has posted a 2.08 ERA in four outings. Hernandez went 1-1 against the Braves in two starts for the Phillies in June, giving up seven earned runs in 13 frames.Harang has been stuck on nine wins for more than a month, drawing five consecutive no-decisions despite a 2.53 ERA. He gave up four runs on nine hits at Los Angeles on July 29. Harang, who is 4-6 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 4.40 ERA, has held right-handers to a .230 batting average while left-handers are hitting .306.WALK-OFFS1. Atlanta RHP Jordan Walden has not allowed a run in 24 of his last 26 appearances, registering 31 strikeouts in 23 innings.2. The Braves optioned RHP Juan Jaime to Triple-A Gwinnett after Wednesday's game. The team said a corresponding roster move would be announced Thursday.3. Los Angeles OF Yasiel Puig struck out four times Wednesday and is hitless in his last two games after getting at least one hit in his first 13 career contests against Atlanta.PREDICTION: Braves 4, Dodgers 3