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Dodgers Finish Tough Road Trip With Finale Against Braves

(Sports Network) - The absence of a couple of key regulars didn't affect the Atlanta Braves' offense in their last outing. The National League East front- runners will attempt to build off Sunday's scoring barrage when they complete a four-game series with the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers tonight at Turner Field.

After mustering a mere two runs in splitting the first two tests of this set, the Braves' bats broke out in a big way on Sunday. Atlanta matched a season high with 16 hits in a 13-1 rout of the Dodgers, the team's highest scoring output since beating Arizona by an identical 13-1 count on May 16.

The Braves scored four times in the bottom of the third inning, capped by Alex Gonzalez's two-run triple, and four more in the fifth to build a commanding 8-0 lead. Troy Glaus belted a three-run homer in that frame and added an RBI single later in the contest.

Gonzalez knocked in four runs as well on the afternoon, while Omar Infante went 3-for-5 with an RBI single and scored three times for Atlanta.

Jair Jurrjens (5-4) also did his part on Sunday, with the Atlanta starter limiting the Dodgers to one run and striking out seven batters over the first seven innings. He improved to 5-0 at Turner Field this season and lowered his home earned run average to a stellar 1.83.

"It's always good when you have runs. You can go out and just throw strikes," said Jurrjens. "You don't need to make intense pitches all the time. When the game is close, every pitch means something and can be the game. With a big score like that, you go out and throw and try to work with a pitch count."

Infante is filling in at second base for All-Star Martin Prado, sidelined since July 30 with a broken right pinkie finger. The Braves will also be without slugger Chipper Jones for the remainder of the season after the veteran third baseman tore the ACL in his left knee last Tuesday.

It doesn't seem to matter much who's in the lineup for Atlanta when the team plays at Turner Field. The Braves are a major-league best 41-16 at home this season, a prime reason why the team holds a two-game edge on Philadelphia for first place in the East.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, have now lost 13 of their last 16 away tests and are a poor 24-34 as the visitor on the year. The defending NL West champs have gone 2-4 thus far on a road trip that ends tonight and find themselves 6 1/2 games behind the Phillies and San Francisco for the lead in the league's Wild Card standings.

"I think it's very frustrating," said Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier of his team's present situation. "We're all trying to achieve a goal. We're just trying to get back into the race in our division. We didn't come out and perform like a team in the race. It's just embarrassing when you're trying to make a push to the playoffs."

On a positive note, Dodgers outfielder Scott Podsednik extended his hitting streak to 12 games after opening Sunday's test with a double. The trade- deadline pickup is batting .380 (19-for-50) over the course of his tear.

Los Angeles was done in by a shoddy pitching performance from Vicente Padilla (6-4) on Sunday, with the right-hander rocked for eight runs and eight hits before exiting after 4 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers will be counting on a better showing from tonight's starter Chad Billingsley. The steady right-hander in turn hopes for a little bit of support from his offense, as Los Angeles has mustered just one run in a three-start winless streak (two losses, one no-decision) he carries into the series finale.

In his most recent assignment, Billingsley held the Phillies to two runs on five hits over six innings in a shutout defeat in Philadelphia last Wednesday. Two starts earlier, he blanked San Francisco over six frames but was stuck without a decision in an eventual 2-1 Dodgers' loss on July 31.

Unlike his team, Billingsley has usually done well on the road this year, having compiled a 5-3 record with a 2.96 ERA in 12 starts in visiting parks. He's just 1-3 lifetime against Atlanta, however, and lost to the Braves at home back on June 5 after allowing three runs in six innings.

Tommy Hanson, who gets the call for Atlanta this evening, has also endured some tough luck as of late. The young righty yielded just one unearned run and two hits over seven innings this past Wednesday in Houston, but was denied a victory when closer Billy Wagner blew a save opportunity in the night. That effort followed a no-decision against the Giants on August 6 in which Hanson gave up one run and three hits in seven innings.

The 23-year-old did best Billingsley and the Dodgers in that above-mentioned June 5 clash by tossing six innings of two-run ball, and is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two lifetime starts against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers did earn a split of their four-game home series with the Braves in early June, but have lost in seven of their past 10 trips to Turner Field.