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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Dodgers waste scoring opportunities in loss to Braves – Orange County Register

ATLANTA — The Dodgers spent most of Wednesday night experiencing what Atlanta commuters get all the time.

Lots of traffic but little progress.

The Dodgers’ version featured 10 runners left on base thanks to a 1-for-10 night with runners in scoring position. They outhit the Braves 12-5 but the Braves finally claimed a 4-3 win with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

The Braves’ win kept the Dodgers from completing a three-game sweep at Truist Park. After scoring 56 runs in their previous nine games – at least five in each of the previous seven – the Dodgers’ offense hit the inevitable cooldown.

“Tonight was one of those nights where it didn’t need to happen,” Max Muncy said. “We had the opportunities. It’s gonna happen – but not when we have that many opportunities.”

The Dodgers had seven baserunners in the first four innings against Braves starter Bryce Elder but stranded six and hit into a double play.

Muncy came up with runners on base in four of his five at-bats Wednesday but struck out twice against Elder and popped up twice in those situations.

“Me personally, I couldn’t see his ball at all. He hides it really well behind his head,” Muncy said of Elder, who went six innings and has the lowest ERA in the National League (2.01 through 10 starts). “The angles he creates are very hard to pick up. All of his pitches look identical coming out of his hand.

“We definitely could have done better, but I also give credit to that guy over there. … We did our job of getting on. We just didn’t do our job of finishing it.”

Mookie Betts put the Dodgers on the board with a solo home run leading off the fifth inning. But they didn’t get another runner into scoring position until the eighth inning.

By then, the Braves had taken a 3-1 lead against Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin. He allowed just three hits in 5-2/3 innings. Unfortunately for Gonsolin, two of those hits traveled a combined 908 feet.

Gonsolin retired the first 10 Braves in order before Matt Olson crushed a 2-and-2 slider from him in the fourth inning, sending it 456 feet into the Georgia night and endangering patrons at the Chop House restaurant beyond the right field seats. That ended a streak of 14 scoreless innings for Gonsolin.

An inning later, Gonsolin walked Ozzie Albies and hung another slider. This one, Marcell Ozuna sent on a 452-foot journey over the wall in left-center field.

“I feel like I executed pitches pretty well today, top to bottom,” Gonsolin said. “I feel like I made two mistakes, really mistakes, today and they hit them both out.”

Gonsolin did pitch into the sixth inning – something a Dodgers starter hadn’t done since Julio Urias went seven innings on May 13.

“I thought he did a great job, clearly was efficient,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They didn’t get many hits off him. Unfortunately, he made two bad pitches and Olson and Ozuna took good swings.”

The Dodgers came back to tie the game in the eighth. Smith led off with a single and went to third on a double by J.D. Martinez. Jason Heyward drove in a run with a ground out. That made the Dodgers 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position for the night.

Miguel Vargas finally came through. He fouled off three consecutive pitches at 1-and-2 then fought off a slider in on his hands, dropping a double just inside the left field line to score Martinez with the tying run.

“I knew it was a huge at-bat for us with the tying run at third base. So I’m trying to take a good at-bat and try to drive the runner in,” Vargas said. “I was trying to fight out there.

“It was really inside. I was ready for it, with two strikes and trying to cover the zone.”

The Dodgers had a chance to take the lead in the ninth inning but Muncy popped out with runners on the corners and they turned to Phil Bickford to keep the score tied and send the game into extra innings.

He couldn’t. Austin Riley led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, went to third on a ground out and scored the game-winning run when Albies lofted a deep fly ball to right field.

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