MLB: Los Angeles tries to cool down hot-lanta



MLB: Los Angeles tries to cool down hot-lanta




MLB: Los Angeles tries to cool down hot-lanta

2010-06-03

Over the past two weeks, the Atlanta Braves have vaulted from worst to first in the NL East. The next two weeks could determine if they have what it takes to stay there. The surging Braves look to win nine straight games for the first time in a decade when they open a season-high 11-game trip Thursday night against a Los Angeles Dodgers team seeking its fifth consecutive victory. Sportsbook.com offers Los Angeles as the -125 favorite for Thursday.
Atlanta’s chances of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2005 weren’t looking good as a nine-game losing streak from April 21-29 dropped the club a season-worst six games below .500. The Braves (31-22, +5.4) were still 6 1/2 games back of first-place Philadelphia on May 17, but they’ve gone a Major League-best 13-2 to open up a 2 1/2-game division lead.
Atlanta finished a three-game sweep of the defending NL champion Phillies on Wednesday with a 2-1 win. The Braves, who have outscored their opponents 51-21 during the eight-game winning streak, haven’t won nine consecutive games since reeling off a franchise-best 15 straight from April 16-May 2, 2000. They will begin this road trip sporting a 18-5 mark when playing with a rested bullpen that pitched one inning or less in the last game.
No team has had both a winning and losing streak of at least nine games in a single season since Cleveland in 2008, which had runs of 10 games.
It would certainly be a surprise if Atlanta can continue its winning ways over this next stretch. After this four-game series at Dodger Stadium, the Braves have four in Arizona followed by a three-game series at AL Central-leading Minnesota. Under Bobby Cox, Atlanta is only 26-32 after allowing three runs or less in five straight contests and the road excursion returns home for three against Tampa Bay, owner of baseball’s best record.
The Dodgers (31-22, +3.2) enter this series having won three straight games in their final at-bat. Garret Anderson came up with the big hit in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Arizona, driving in Matt Kemp with a two-out single in the 14th inning. Anderson helped his team move to 11-5 in one run games this season.
Los Angeles has won four straight despite Andre Ethier’s struggles at the plate. Ethier is 1 for 14 in three games since coming off the disabled list after missing the previous 15 because of a broken right pinky finger. He hit .367 (11 for 30) with three homers, two doubles and nine RBIs in seven games against Atlanta last season, but the Dodgers lost four.
Hiroki Kuroda (5-3, 3.55 ERA, 1.358 WHIP) takes the ball for Los Angeles looking to bounce back from his worst outing of the season. After going 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in his first five May starts, Kuroda was tagged for seven runs - five earned - and 10 hits in a season-low four innings of Saturday’s 11-3 loss at Colorado.
Kuroda is 1-1 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts against the Braves, and in his only outing against them at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander threw a one-hitter, winning 3-0 on July 7, 2008 and L.A. is 7-1 when he is the series Game 1 starter.
Atlanta counters with Kris Medlen (2-1, 2.85, 1.317), who is 1-0 with a 3.22 ERA in four starts since joining the rotation. Against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Medlen gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-3 win. This will be the right-hander’s first career start against the Dodgers after going 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in four relief outings against them last season.
Sportsbook.com has the Dodgers as -127 money line favorites with the total Ov8. Los Angeles is 12-2 after three consecutive games versus a NL West clubs this season and 14-4 UNDER after a contest where the bullpen threw six or more innings. Atlanta has won their last five against teams with a positive record; however is 2-9 as road underdog. The Braves are 13-3 OVER in away encounters after allowing four runs or less in five straight games since 2008.
The First pitch is set for 10:10 Eastern on MLB-TV and can also be viewed in local markets. The StatFox Power Line shows L.A. Dodgers -111, indicating a slight overpricing.

MLB News

Click here to read latest MLB news