Mike Soroka turned in another great performance on the mound but the Atlanta Braves bullpen let them down once again in an 8-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers struck first in the second inning when Cody Bellinger jumped on a fastball and drove it out to right center for his 41st home run of the season.
The Braves would answer back in a big way in the home half of the second. Josh Donaldson walked to lead off the inning and moved all the way to third on a one-out double by Ender Inciarte. Kenta Maeda then issued a four-pitch walk to Adeiny Hechavarria to load the bases. Matt Joyce then lined an 0-2 pitch from Maeda into center field to score Donaldson and Inciarte to put Atlanta in front 2-1.
As Inciarte rounded third, he pulled up lame with a leg injury. He was quickly helped to the dugout tunnel and it was later announced that he had suffered a right hamstring strain.
Atlanta wasn’t finished as Ronald Acuña Jr. followed with another single that scored Joyce to increase the lead to 3-1. Los Angeles would strike again against Mike Soroka in the third as Joc Pederson singled home Matt Beaty to cut the Braves’ lead to 3-2.
Maeda and Soroka would settle in from there. Maeda struck out seven straight batters before Donaldson lined a single to right with two outs in the fifth. Brian McCann would follow with a walk and that would be it for Maeda as Dave Roberts popped out of the dugout and replaced him with left-hander Adam Kolarek. Rafael Ortega would bounce back to Kolarek to end the threat.
Maeda would exit having allowed five hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out nine on 87 pitches.
Soroka cruised through the fourth and fifth before running into some trouble in the sixth. Max Muncy grounded to Ozzie Albies for the first out but Justin Turner followed with a single. Bellinger followed with a double off the wall in right center to put the Dodgers in business with runners at second and third with just one out. Corey Seager then worked a walk to load the bases. After a visit by pitching coach Rick Kranitz, Soroka got Edwin Rios to ground into an inning ending double play to escape the jam.
Soroka would return for the seventh and quickly issued a leadoff walk to Will Smith to get the inning started, but got Matt Beaty to ground into a double play to erase the baserunner. A.J. Pollock followed with a pinch hit single which would end Soroka’s night.
Atlanta’s bullpen came into the game struggling and those struggles would continue on this night. Sean Newcomb replaced Soroka and walked pinch hitter Kyle Garlick to put runners at first and second. Newcomb then got ahead of Muncy 1-2 but left a slider up over the middle of the plate that Muncy drove out to right center for a three-run home run to put the Dodgers in front 5-3. Justin Turner would follow with a solo shot off of Newcomb to extend the lead to 6-3.
Los Angeles would tack on two more runs in the eighth on a home run by Will Smith off of Jerry Blevins. Julio Urias held the Braves scoreless over the final three innings.
Soroka deserved a better fate as he once again exited the game with the lead only to watch the bullpen give it up. He exited having allowed seven hits over 6 2/3 innings while allowing three runs. He walked three and struck out four.
Atlanta finished the game with just six hits. Acuña finished the game 1-for-5 but stole his 29th base of the season. He needs just one more to become the fourth Braves player ever to record a 30-30 season.
The series will continue on Saturday with Mike Foltynewicz scheduled to make the start for Atlanta. The Dodgers will counter with left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.