Beachy gets 1st win, Braves rout Dodgers 10-1

LOS ANGELES – This time, Braves rookie Brandon Beachy wouldn’t allow an early lead and his first major league win to slip away.

Leadoff homers by Martin Prado and Freddie Freeman in the sixth and seventh innings, then an eight-run scoring blitz in the ninth, propelled Beachy and the Braves to an 10-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

"Took a lot longer than I had hoped, but it feels good," Beachy said after pitching six scoreless innings of two-hit ball for his first win in seven major-league starts over two seasons.

“[Dodger Stadium] is not a bad place to get your first win. I don’t think anyplace would have been bad for that, but it’s pretty cool that it happened here, with all the history.”

Eric Hinske and Dan Uggla added home runs in an improbable ninth inning that turned a one-run lead into the Braves’ largest winning margin since an 11-2 rout of Washington in the third game of the season.

"Big game -- just what we needed," said catcher Brian McCann, one of five Braves with two hits on a night when 12 of the team's 14 hits came after the sixth inning, including eight in the season-high eight-run ninth inning.

The Braves had averaged only 2.8 runs in 14 games between the 11-run outburst at Washington and 10-run output Tuesday.

“It was just cool to be a part of it tonight," said Hinske, whose two-run pinch homer was his sixth career pinch-hit homer and first this season, coming two innings after Brooks Conrad ended an 0-for-25 start by Braves pinch-hitters.

"Everybody’s feeling great right now.  It’s a  big win for us. We just lost two in a row, and the Dodgers seem to play well here at home," Hinske said. "They’ve got good starting pitching and we’ve been having some trouble scoring runs. So to have a big inning like that is nice."

Hinske added an RBI single before the epic ninth  finally ended, the second time in his career that he had two hits in an inning after coming in to pinch-hit.

A scoring rule states that a player can only be credited with one pinch hit in a game, even if he bats twice in the same inning after entering as a pinch-hitter.

"The game was so close the whole time," Hinske said. "It was intense the whole way through, then all of a sudden you get eight in the ninth inning.”

It was a highly improbable ending to what had been a  pitchers' duel through eight innings.

“You know, people are going to get up tomorrow and read this boxscore and say, ‘Oh, we won 10-1,'" Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It wasn’t that case for 8-1/3 innings or whatever it was."

Sinkerballer Jonny Venters bailed out fellow Braves reliever Scott Linebrink in the seventh, when the Dodgers got a run and three hits against Linebrink before Casey Blake’s bases-loaded groundout ended the inning with the score 2-1.

Beachy (1-1) rebounded from two rough starts with the best performance of his big-league career, allowing two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six scoreless innings.

“He got better [as the game progressed]," Gonzalez said of Beachy, who struck out the side in the fourth and retired the last six batters he faced following Jerry Sands' leadoff double in the fifth.

"He got so much better that [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] and I talked about sending him back out there in the seventh. The pitch count was just a little bit tad high for our comfort level, but for me, that’s how much better I thought he got during the course of the game.”

Beachy threw 100 pitches in five innings, but was left in for the sixth. He responded with an 11-pitch perfect inning.

“That’s what we saw in spring training," Gonzalez said of Beachy. "Believe it or not, I thought he got better with his command late in the game.”

Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda gave up only one hit – a Prado single to start the game – before the Prado homer in the sixth put the Braves ahead 1-0. Freeman’s opposite-field homer off Kuroda in the the seventh was the rookie first baseman's second this season, on a night when Freeman again played stellar defense.

Kuroda (2-2) was charged with two runs and five hits in 6-1/3 innings, and lost his third consecutive quality start against the Braves in two seasons.

Of the Braves’ 20 home runs, 16 have come with bases empty. They lead the National League in bases-empty homers, and before Hinske's two-run homer in the ninth the Braves  were last in homers with runners on base.

"Brooksy got the monkey off our back," Hinske said of the pinch-hitters' drought that Conrad ended. "We knew about it; we had been talking about it, [saying] come on, let’s go, we’ve got to start making our money. You know what I’m saying? If you don’t start getting some hits you won’t be here for very long."

Beachy’s fourth start this season was his best, an exemplary performance in which he worked out of trouble in the first and fifth innings.

He had given up 14 hits and nine runs in 11-2/3 innings in his past two starts. A few hours before Tuesday’s game,  Gonzalez said  Beachy could do better, and that the Braves had seen it during spring training.

Against the Dodgers, he pitched like he'd done to win the fifth-starter job at spring training.

“Beachy was lights-out," McCann said. "He was great.  He attacked all night long with his pitches. He’s been doing that since he got called up. I mean, this guy’s got the poise of someone who expects to be here and expects to produce at a high level.

“He had 100 pitches [through five] and the sixth inning was his best inning.  Just shows you the condition he’s in. He was awesome tonight.”

In the first inning, after a two-out double by Andre Ethier extended Ethier’s hitting streak to 16 games, Beachy intentionally walked major-league hitting leader Matt Kemp to get to Juan Uribe, who grounded out.

That began a stretch of 10 outs in 11 batters for Beachy before Jerry Sands’ leadoff double in the fifth. Beachy then struck out A.J. Ellis and Kuroda grounded to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who made Sands pay for a baserunning mistake.

Sands, just up from Triple-A on Monday, tried to advance to third on Kuroda's grounder. Gonzalez threw to Chipper Jones, who applied the tag.

Jamey Carroll flied out to keep the game  scoreless through five. Three pitchers later, Prado changed that with his second homer of the season and the second hit of the night against Kuroda.

Freeman’s homer pushed the lead to 2-0 before the Dodgers broke through against Linebrink in the seventh. Linebrink had a leadoff single by Juan Uribe skip off his glove, and James Loney's single put runners on the corners with none out.

Sands drove in a run with a grounder that  Jones fielded behind third base, making a superb diving stop and then getting up to throw to first base for the out. Ellis followed with another single and that was it for Linebrink.

Venters entered the game and struck out pinch-hitter Marcus Thames on three pitches. After Jamey Carroll walked to load the bases, Blake’s groundout ended the inning with the bases loaded and the Braves up 2-1.

Venters stayed in for the eighth, then the hitters took over to assure Beachy was rewarded with his first win since Aug. 13, when Triple-A Gwinnett beat Durham.