Dodgers can’t complete comeback against Braves in series opener – Press Enterprise

LOS ANGELES ― It wasn’t the postseason preview the Dodgers were hoping for, but the Atlanta Braves brought an expected jolt of October to Dodger Stadium on Thursday night.

The star players came out to shine. The Dodgers erased an early deficit to make it close. And their 8-7 loss was decided by the most basic of mistakes.

A throwing error by Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy in the sixth inning allowed the Braves’ No. 9 hitter, Nicky Lopez, to reach second base on a routine ground ball. The next batter, Ronald Acuña Jr., was given a well-earned intentional walk. Michael Harris II then delivered the game-winning hit, a single to center field to score Acuña with Atlanta’s eighth and final run.

It was a razor-close margin of defeat for two teams unaccustomed to close margins – or defeats. The Braves (88-45) and Dodgers (83-50) will begin and end their four-game series with the two best records in the National League. They showed why.

Mookie Betts hit two home runs, giving him 51 hits in August, the most by a Dodger since the team left Brooklyn in 1957. Acuña hit a grand slam and stole his 62nd base of the season, making him the first player in major league history with 60 steals and 30 homers in a single season.

Muncy and Michael Busch hit solo home runs for the Dodgers. But with two runners on base in the ninth inning, Muncy could not atone for his earlier error. His 323-foot fly ball to right field fell into Acuña’s glove. Closer Raisel Iglesias then struck out Kiké Hernandez for the game’s final out.

Dodgers starter Lance Lynn (10-10) was undone by a familiar foe: the longball. He allowed 1,257 feet worth of homers, none louder than Acuña’s grand slam in the second inning. Lynn also walked in a run with the bases loaded, and allowed a solo shot to Austin Riley, before the second inning was over.

At that point, the Dodgers trailed 6-1 – a larger deficit than they had faced in any of their previous eight games. Lynn recovered to pitch into the fifth inning, but the three homers did irreparable damage to his ERA as a Dodger, which rose from 2.03 to 3.57. The seven earned runs he allowed doubled the number he’d allowed in five starts since he was acquired in a trade with the Chicago White Sox.

The Dodgers scored first, when Muncy beat out a hard-hit ground ball to avoid a double play and allow Betts to score from third base. Braves starter Spencer Strider did not allow another run until Betts’ three-run home run in the fifth inning.

Strider, the National League leader in strikeouts and a candidate for the Cy Young Award, allowed four runs on four hits, walked two batters and struck out nine.

Muncy tied a franchise record by collecting an extra-base hit in nine consecutive games. Johnny Roseboro was the last Dodger to do it in 1961.

More to come on this story.

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