ATLANTA (AP) — Even before Hyun-Jin Ryu left with an injury, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn’t sense that the left-hander was 100 percent.
“I thought Hyun-Jin was OK,” Mattingly said. “He wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him in the last few games, I didn’t think.”
Ryu left in the sixth inning with a strained right gluteus and Los Angeles couldn’t score with the bases loaded in the ninth as the Dodgers lost 3-2 to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
Ervin Santana won his sixth straight start at Turner Field, and Justin Upton drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth for Atlanta, which had lost 11 of 13 overall.
Ryu (13-6) allowed six hits and three runs with two walks and seven strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings.
“I don’t think it’s something serious right now,” Ryu said through a translator. “It’s not like my arm blew out. I think I can jump right back on the mound. I just want to be cautious of it as well.”
Los Angeles, which leads San Francisco by five games in the NL West, was trying to earn a sixth straight win over the Braves for the first time since Sept. 20, 1987-April 16, 1988.
Santana (12-6) improved to 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last six starts overall, giving up eight hits, two runs and two walks with nine strikeouts in six innings. The right-hander improved to 8-2 with a 3.48 ERA at Turner Field this year.
Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel got the last three outs to earn his 35th save in 39 chances. He walked the first batter he faced, pinch-hitter Andre Either, and the next batter, Dee Gordon, reached on a bunt single.
Kimbrel struck out Yasiel Puig for the first out and gave up a single to Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases before Matt Kemp grounded into a double play to end the game.
“The moment doesn’t get away from him,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Kimbrel. “He has the maturity of being in situations closing big games, but he doesn’t get rattled a lot.”
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI singles by Carl Crawford and Miguel Rojas.
The Braves, who stayed five games behind Washington in the NL East, cut the lead to 2-1 in their half of the second when Evan Gattis doubled, moved to third on a bunt and scored on Andrelton Simmons’ RBI groundout.
Simmons’ bloop RBI single in the fourth tied the score 2-2.
Atlanta went up in the fifth. Jason Heyward, batting leadoff for the first time since June 17, singled, advanced when Freeman was hit by a pitch and scored from second on Upton’s RBI single.
Puig went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and one walk. Crawford went 2 for 4 and is hitting .526 in 19 at-bats against the Braves this year
Mattingly indicated that Ryu, who was 4-0 with a with a 1.91 ERA in his previous five starts, could undergo an MRI when the team gets back to Los Angeles, but it’s too early to speculate if he will miss his next start.
“Any time a guy comes off (the mound) that quickly and waves to the dugout – to think that five days later he’s going to be pitching – I’d just be guessing,” Mattingly said.
Dodgers: Ryu grabbed the back of his top right leg after as he stood in front of the mound after walking B.J. Upton in the sixth and motioned for a trainer. He walked off the field under his own power. The Dodgers are listing him as day to day.
Braves: Simmons, who went 1 for 4, appeared to run and field with no ill effects after missing the last six games with a sprained left ankle.
Dodgers: RHP Roberto Hernandez (6-8) will make his second start since arriving in an Aug. 8 trade with Philadelphia, has a 2.87 ERA and a .189 opponents’ batting average in his last eight games.
Braves: RHP Aaron Harang (9-6) didn’t receive a decision in his last five starts despite a 2.81 ERA.
SMILES IN THE USA: Atlanta bullpen coach Eddie Perez, a native of Venezuela, said before the game that he took a U.S. oath of naturalization in the morning with his family in attendance. Perez, the 1999 NLCS MVP and a Braves coach since 2005, was shown on the video board before the start of the fourth inning and waved to the cheering crowd.