Homer happy: Dodgers hit 3 in 8th to beat Braves 6-3
LOS ANGELES (AP) Andre Ethier made it clear in spring training: He wanted to be an everyday player.
Because of injuries, he's gotten his wish and the veteran outfielder is proving a valuable offensive commodity. His solo homer put the Los Angeles Dodgers ahead for good in the eighth inning, rallying them to a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
''Satisfaction that we're playing good ball and in first place,'' Ethier said. ''My frame of mind is make the most of my opportunities every day. Still don't know what tomorrow will hold. You got to go out there and fight.''
Alex Guerrero and Jimmy Rollins also homered in the eighth to give the Dodgers a crucial cushion.
Ethier got things started, homering to snap a 2-all tie against Nick Masset (0-1). Ethier's bases-loaded walk in the first drove in the Dodgers' initial run.
Pinch-hitter Guerrero sent a 3-1 pitch into the left-field pavilion, scoring A.J. Ellis, who walked, to make it 5-2. It was Guerrero's major-league leading third pinch-hit homer. With two outs, Rollins homered for a 6-2 lead.
It was the Dodgers' most runs scored since getting six on May 15 against Colorado. They lead the majors with 60 homers.
''It was definitely an embarrassment. I feel like I let the team down,'' Masset said. ''I blew the lead and gave us a big fat `L.'''
Ethier said he never stopped believing in himself, even when he fell behind Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson in the outfield hierarchy, and was dealing with a variety of injuries. Ethier is hitting .313 - third-best on the team.
''Andre has backed it up and he deserves to be playing every day,'' manager Don Mattingly said.
Adam Liberatore (1-0) got the victory, tossing 11 pitches, and Kenley Jansen got three outs in the ninth for his fourth save.
Los Angeles tied it at 2-all in the seventh on Adrian Gonzalez's bases-loaded groundout to the pitcher.
Atlanta took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Freddie Freeman's RBI single after tying the score 1-all in the fourth on Pedro Ciriaco's RBI single with two outs.
The Dodgers had a chance to extend their lead in the third, but Scott Van Slyke grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Williams Perez allowed one run and seven hits in six innings of his second major league start for the Braves. He struck out seven and walked one.
''He was better than I expected,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''I liked the way he progressed and I think he did a very nice job. In five days, we'll be ready to put him back out there. He can build on this game.''
Dodgers starter Brett Anderson gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings. The left-hander struck out three and walked two. He had some back stiffness in the fifth, but after throwing a few pitches under the watchful eye of a trainer he stayed in the game.
''Hopefully, I'll wake up tomorrow and feel fine,'' Anderson said.
He came on with two runners on base in the ninth to put up his 14th consecutive scoreless appearance since Sept. 5, 2014. In five innings this season, Carlos Gonzalez is the only batter to reach base off Jansen, on a wild pitch after striking out. Jansen has yet to allow a hit or a walk in five appearances so far.
Braves: INF Alberto Callaspo was scratched before the game because he could be part of a potential trade. ... INF Chris Johnson, recovering from a broken left hand, will play three minor league games before possibly re-joining the team on Thursday in San Francisco.
Dodgers: C Yasmani Grandal, on the seven-day concussion disabled list, will do drill work and be the designated hitter but won't catch during a minor league rehab stint lasting two or three games.
Braves: Julio Teheran (4-1, 3.91 ERA) starts the middle game of the series. He has yet to beat the Dodgers in two career starts against them.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 4.32) already has as many losses as he did all of last season.