Walks, errors hurt Dodgers in 8-5 loss to Braves
ATLANTA (AP) -- Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said too many walks and too many errors gave the Atlanta Braves far too much help.
The Dodgers, who had won two straight and four of five, blew a sixth-inning lead when Justin Upton hit a grand slam that lifted the Braves to an 8-5 win Friday night.
It was a disappointing start to a six-game road trip for Los Angeles, and Mattingly was left to bemoan the lost opportunity to continue what had been a minor recovery from a slow start to the season.
Scott Van Slyke hit two homers for the Dodgers, who led 4-2 before Upton's third career grand slam.
The stretch of four wins in five games was the Dodgers' best since early April. Did they let a chance to extend the upswing get away?
"Pretty much, yeah," Mattingly said. "We've got a two-run lead going into the sixth there."
Los Angeles pitchers issued seven walks, including five by starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, and errors by third baseman Luis Cruz and left fielder Carl Crawford - each on line drives hit by Andrelton Simmons - led to three unearned runs.
"Too many walks. Giving too many free runners," Mattingly said. "And we've got to catch the baseball. That's all there is to it. You've got to catch the baseball."
Upton drove in five runs hitting behind Jason Heyward, who had two hits with a RBI and scored two runs in his first game back after having his appendix removed April 22.
The homer was Upton's majors-leading 14th this season, a high shot that appeared bound for the upper deck before landing deep in the left-field seats.
"I got that one pretty good," Upton said.
Just pretty good?
"As soon as he took that swing, I knew that ball was going to be out of the ballpark," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "That was one of the prettiest swings I've seen put on a baseball."
It was the first time this season the Braves had Heyward in the lineup along with catcher Brian McCann, who missed the first 30 games while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Atlanta also had first baseman Freddie Freeman miss two weeks in April with a strained oblique.
Ryu gave up only two runs in five innings, but relievers Matt Guerrier and Poco Rodriguez (0-2) quickly blew the 4-2 lead in the sixth.
After Guerrier gave up a single to pinch-hitter Jordan Schafer, Cruz couldn't handle Simmons' sharp liner, an error that left runners on first and second. Rodriguez walked Heyward to load the bases before Upton's homer deep into the left-field seats.
Crawford missed Simmons' line drive for another error during Atlanta's two-run seventh. Ramiro Pena, who hit a two-out triple, scored on the error and Heyward added a run-scoring single off Ronald Belisario.
Ryu failed to last at least six innings for the first time in nine starts. He gave up five hits with five walks and five strikeouts.
"All day today I was just a little off-balance," Ryu said through an interpreter. "I personally feel bad that I couldn't go longer as a starter. I feel bad for my teammates that I couldn't stay out there a little longer. ... Unfortunately my balls weren't going in the zone today."
Mattingly said he didn't second-guess his decision to replace Ryu, who needed 100 pitches to make it through five innings.
"I feel fine with it," Mattingly said. "He was done. He was at 100 and he struggled the whole day. That wasn't a decision. It wasn't a tough one to make. At 100, he's pretty much out of gas."
A.J. Ellis doubled and scored on Dee Gordon's fielder's choice grounder for the Dodgers in the second. Crawford and Ryu had run-scoring singles in the fourth.
Ryu had strong defensive support in the fifth. Van Slyke, making his first start of the season in right field, had a sliding catch of Chris Johnson's fly ball near the foul line. Matt Kemp then made a diving grab of McCann's fly ball in the left-center gap.
Paul Maholm (5-4) allowed eight hits and four runs - two earned - in six innings, and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 12th save.
Kemp, who grounded out to end the game, was 0-for-5, ending his 14-game hitting streak, which began on April 30.
NOTES: Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron attended batting practice. ... Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, watched the game from their usual seats near the Braves dugout. ... Dodgers INF Jerry Hairston Jr., on the 15-day DL with a left groin strain, was examined by a doctor in Arizona on Friday for a sore left knee. Mattingly called the problem "a little bit of a setback." ... RHP Jordan Walden was placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation to clear a spot for Heyward. ... Braves RHP Kris Medlen and Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano each will look for his second win as the series continues on Saturday night. Medlen is only 1-5 but has a 3.44 ERA.