Braves lose to Dodgers again; East lead drops to 2 1/2

Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman reacts after striking out during the eighth inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman reacts after striking out during the eighth inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LOS ANGELES – The Braves lost to the Dodgers 3-2 in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but the focus was second baseman Ozzie Albies, who took a foul ball off his knee and was carried off the field.

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday:

1. Albies left in the fifth inning after fouling a pitch off his left knee. Albies stayed on the ground for a few minutes, surrounding by manager Brian Snitker, third-base coach Ron Washington and trainers. He was carried off the field by two trainers.

X-rays were negative, the Braves announced, which was encouraging news. Albies is day to day.

“I’m sure he’ll be down a day or two, and then we’ll see where he’s at,” Snitker said after the game. “I think he’s pretty sore right now.”

When asked to reiterate Albies wouldn’t need time on the injured list, Snitker said, “not at this time, no.” Losing Albies for any amount of time would be a brutal blow for the Braves. Albies, one of the game’s most exciting young players, is in his second All-Star season at 24 years old. He’s played in 129 of the team’s 131 games.

Utilityman Ehire Adrianza finished the at-bat against Dodgers starter Walker Buehler, grounding out. Adrianza remained in the game at second base.

2. The eighth inning was an unfortunate time for Braves lefty Tyler Matzek’s scoreless streak to end. Matzek, one of MLB’s best relievers, walked outfielder Mookie Betts to open the frame. An out later, shortstop Corey Seager doubled, scoring the go-ahead run and ending Matzek’s scoreless streak at 18-1/3 innings. The Braves went 1-2-3 against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth.

3. Former Dodger Joc Pederson started in center field and hit eighth for the Braves. Pederson, with his newly dyed blonde hair, received a healthy applause when lineups were announced and when he took his first at-bat in the third inning. Those cheers were quickly quieted when Pederson smashed a solo homer off Dodgers starter and friend Walker Buehler.

“I’ll probably send him a text or something,” Pederson said of Buehler. “He’ll probably text me angry. But throwing a change-up up in the zone, not a good pitch. (laughs).”

Pederson, a native of Palo Alto, California, played for the Dodgers from 2014-2020. He was part of two teams that eliminated the Braves from the postseason in 2018 and 2020, the latter of which ended with a championship.

“It means a lot,” Pederson said of the crowd cheers for him. “Put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this city, this team. These fans, they’ve been supporting us since day one. And we came up short (in the postseason) a few times and we finally brought a ring home for them and the city. So it’s really special. It’s a special place.”

This week marked Pederson’s second return to Los Angeles this season after he first returned with the Cubs in June. He went 1-for-11 in that series. Chicago traded Pederson to the Braves on July 16.

4. Braves starter Charlie Morton, who had a 3.39 ERA in his last 10 outings, pitched well against the defending champs. He gave up a fourth-inning home run to Betts but kept the Dodgers off the board otherwise in his six-inning showing.

“Man, I thought he was outstanding,” Snitker said.

Morton held the Dodgers to three hits, striking out eight and walking two. He navigated one jam in the fourth, when after Betts’ blast, third baseman Justin Turner singled and Seager walked with one out. Morton responded by retiring catcher Will Smith on a liner to left and getting outfielder AJ Pollock to ground out.

He’d surrendered a double to Turner in the second but struck out the next three. He retired six of the final seven he faced, his lone blemish a one-out walk to Betts in the sixth that proved harmless. It was another strong outing for Morton, who kept pace with Buehler, one of the National League’s top Cy Young candidates.

5. Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud collected his seventh RBI in 11 games since returning from the injured list. D’Arnaud smacked a double to left off Buehler in the fourth that scored third baseman Austin Riley for a 2-0 advantage. Riley reached on a broken-bat single, extending his hitting streak to seven games.

Stat to know

18-1/3 innings (Matzek’s scoreless streak ended at 18-1/3 frames. It was the fourth-longest streak in the majors.)

NL East

The Braves lost, while the Phillies defeated the Nationals and the Mets swept a doubleheader against Miami. The second-place Phillies are 2-1/2 games behind the Braves. The Mets are 5-1/2 back.

Up next

The Braves and Dodgers face off for the final time in the regular season Wednesday, when Southern California native Max Fried (11-7, 3.54) opposes long-time Nationals ace Max Scherzer (12-4, 2.51), who joined the Dodgers at the trade deadline.