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Tough start out West for Braves

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Posted: July 3, 2007 1:12 a.m.
Updated: July 18, 2007 5:00 a.m.
LOS ANGELES - Matt Kemp had three RBIs including, a tiebreaking two-run homer, and first-time All-Star Russell Martin had a career-high four hits to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Atlanta Braves 8-2 Monday night. Derek Lowe and John Smoltz (9-5) were in a duel through five innings, with the score 1-1. Lowe, who threw 104 pitches, left after the Braves opened the sixth with singles by Chipper and Andruw Jones. Joe Beimel (2-1) struck out Kelly Johnson after loading the bases with a one-out intentional walk to Jeff Francoeur, then retired pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a groundout _ thanks to a diving stop in the hole by second baseman Jeff Kent. Beimel, who has allowed only two of his 25 inherited runners to score, pitched two hitless innings. He turned Chipper Jones' comebacker into an inning-ending double play in the seventh. Kemp put the Dodgers ahead 3-1 with a drive to left field that was caught on the bullpen mound by Chin-hui Tsao, an estimated 436 feet from home plate. It came after James Loney swung at a third strike with two outs and reached first base as the ball got away from Brian McCann. Lowe gave up one run and eight hits in five-plus innings, struck out five and walk none. Smoltz, headed to his eighth All-Star game next week, gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings and struck out six. Atlanta opened the scoring in the second with an RBI single by Edgar Renteria that fell just in front of center fielder Juan Pierre. When Lowe got back to the dugout, he threw his glove against the wall and then tossed a bucket toward the dugout steps before going to the far end of the bench to sit and cool off next to a large electric fan. Whether or not Pierre had a chance to catch Renteria's ball is debatable, but at least he was playing deep enough to chase down drives to the warning track by Willie Harris leading off in the first inning and McCann starting off the fourth. The Dodgers tied it in the fifth on doubles by Rafael Furcal and Martin, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He also had an RBI single during a five-run seventh, raising his average with runners in scoring position to .345. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, whose 131st career ejection on June 23 tied John McGraw's major league record, had a beef with first base umpire Jerry Crawford in the second inning. Kemp hit a potential inning-ending double-play grounder to third and was called safe, beating the relay from Johnson at second. But the argument was brief, and Cox stayed in the game. Notes: Smoltz and Lowe both have had seasons of 20 wins and 40 saves. The only other player in big league history to accomplish that feat is Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. ... The Braves have been outscored 22-4 in Smoltz's five losses _ totaling one run during the 32 2-3 combined innings while he was on the mound. However, two of his wins were 14-0 and 13-0. ... Cox said RHP Buddy Carlyle, whose start on Sunday at Florida was shortened to 38 pitches over three innings because of a 1 1/2-hour rain delay, will not come back on short rest to make his next start.
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