ATLANTA (AP) — Despite hitting only .229 in the first 12 games in August, Dee Gordon remained confident in his approach as he refused to make changes that might lead to bad habits.
Gordon’s self-confidence paid off on Thursday, as he had three hits and scored four runs to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers past the slumping Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Thursday.
Gordon, hitting .291 overall, also stole two bases, increasing his total to 54, the most in the major leagues.
“Dee Gordon beat us,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s probably your most traditional leadoff hitter I’ve seen in a long time.”
Gordon had plenty of help. Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez, who followed Gordon in the batting order, each also had three hits. Gonzalez drove in three runs.
“When your guys up top get on, it just changes the game,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who said Gordon “was setting the tone, getting on and stealing bases.”
Drew Butera hit a two-run homer, his first in almost three months, in the second inning for the NL West-leading Dodgers, who won three of four in the series.
The Braves, who began the day five games behind first-place Washington in the NL East, have lost 12 of 15.
“We’ve still got 41 games left,” said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who had three hits, including a double in the three-run eighth. “We can still make something of this if we keep grinding.”
Roberto Hernandez (7-8), making his second start since his trade from the Phillies on Aug. 7, allowed one run on three hits and four walks in six innings.
Butera’s second-inning homer off Aaron Harang (9-7) was only his third of the season and his first since May 16.
Kenley Jansen struck out B.J. Upton with runners on second and third to end the game.
The Braves trailed 5-1 before Justin Upton’s two-run double off Brian Wilson in the eighth. Andrelton Simmons’ single off Jansen drove in Upton, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to one run.
Jansen struck out pinch-hitter Evan Gattis to end the eighth but ran into trouble in the ninth. After giving up a one-out walk to Jason Heyward, Jansen struck out Emilio Bonifacio. Freeman doubled, moving Heyward to third. Jansen wrapped up his 34th save on Upton’s swinging strikeout.
Harang had his worst start in two months, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings. Harang hadn’t allowed as many runs since he was charged with nine runs, eight earned, in a 10-5 loss to Philadelphia on June 18.
Dodgers: Mattingly said RHP Josh Beckett won’t come off the 15-day disabled list when eligible on Tuesday. Beckett, who has a left hip impingement, will have more tests and Mattingly said surgery “is a possibility.” … Mattingly said LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu may have a MRI after leaving Wednesday night’s game with a right gluteus muscle strain.
Braves: After doubling and advancing with a slide into third base in the eighth, Upton left the game with a mild left hamstring strain. “It’s something that flares up,” he said. The Braves say his status is day to day. B.J. Upton came in as a pinch-runner.
Dodgers: After completing a nine-game road trip, the Dodgers open a home series against Milwaukee as RHP Zack Greinke looks for his 13th win against RHP Jimmy Nelson. Greinke, an All-Star this season, is 6-2 with a 2.66 in 10 home starts.
Braves: Atlanta opens a weekend series against the AL West-leading Oakland A’s as LHP Alex Wood (8-9) tries to reach .500 against Jason Hammel (1-4).
Luis Avilan, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, gave up one run on two hits and a walk in the ninth. He said he focused on his curveball and change-up at Gwinnett. He joins James Russell as left-handers in the Braves’ bullpen. The team optioned RHP Juan Jaime to Gwinnett following Wednesday night’s win.
BACK TO THE WALL
Puig made a leaping catch of Freeman’s drive at the 400-foot mark, falling with his back against the centerfield wall in the sixth.