(Sports Network) - The owners of the best home record in baseball continue a wraparound series with a team that's had plenty of recent trouble winning on the road tonight at Atlanta's Turner Field, where the National League East- leading Braves shoot for a second straight win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Atlanta won the opener of this four-game series with a 1-0 nail-biter on Friday, which improved Bobby Cox's squad to 40-15 in its home park this season. That stellar record is the main reason why the Braves hold a three- game advantage over second-place Philadelphia in the NL East, as well as the second-best overall mark in the Senior Circuit at 67-48.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have had their problems away from home all throughout this season and especially of late. Last night's defeat was Los Angeles' 12th in its last 14 games on the road and dropped the team to 23-33 as the visitor this season.
Los Angeles did receive an outstanding performance from starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on Friday, but Atlanta's Tim Hudson was just a bit better. The Braves ace limited the Dodgers to three hits and struck out six over eight scoreless innings to win his fifth consecutive start and up his season record to 14-5.
Billy Wagner took over for Hudson in the ninth and allowed a leadoff single to Scott Podsednik, but got out of the inning unscathed to earn his 29th save.
Kuroda (8-11) worked the first seven innings and gave up just four hits, but one was a solo homer to Brooks Conrad in the bottom of the seventh inning that snapped the scoreless deadlock.
Conrad has taken over for longtime third baseman Chipper Jones, who will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in Tuesday's 4-2 win at Houston. Conrad also came up with a big hit in that game, a go-ahead two-run homer off Astros closer Matt Lindstrom in the ninth inning.
"Having (Jones) going down is terrible," said Conrad after Friday's triumph. "I feel really bad for him, but the bench is going to have to step up."
Ted Lilly will attempt to shake the Dodgers out of their lingering road slump, as well as maintain a perfect record in his short tenure with his new team, when he toes the rubber this evening. Acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the July 31 trade deadline, the gritty lefty has won both his starts in a Los Angeles uniform and been effective in doing so.
Lilly delivered an outstanding Dodgers debut on August 3, holding NL West leader San Diego to a run and two hits over seven sharp innings to deal the Padres a 2-1 setback. He was touched for a pair of homers and three runs overall in Sunday's six-inning stint against Washington, but struck out six without a walk and received plenty of support in an 8-3 verdict.
The 34-year-old sports a 2-1 record with a 4.26 ERA in five lifetime starts at Turner Field and is 3-2 with a 5.02 ERA over eight career matchups with Atlanta.
Trying to extend the Braves' streak will be Derek Lowe, with the former Dodger also taking the hill this evening seeking to string together back-to-back victories for the first time since a stretch of three straight winning starts from May 22-June 2.
Lowe has won just twice over his past nine outings, but was able to best San Francisco this past Sunday after allowing a pair of runs over 5 1/3 innings of work. The veteran righty was actually better in a no-decision against the New York Mets five days earlier, yielding just one run over six innings in that August 3 start.
The 37-year-old has had an up-and-down campaign that's reflected in his 11-9 record and 4.40 ERA, but he's usually been tough at home. In 12 starts at Turner Field thus far in 2010, Lowe has delivered an impressive 8-3 mark along with a 3.88 ERA.
Lowe, who won 54 games for the Dodgers between 2005-08 before joining the Braves as a free agent, is 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA in four overall starts against his ex-team. He's yet to face Los Angeles this year, but did go 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA in two encounters with the Dodgers during the 2009 season.
These teams split a four-game series at Dodger Stadium from June 3-6. Los Angeles has now lost in six of its past eight visits to Turner Field, but did take two of three bouts from the Braves there last season.