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Minor encouraging, BJ Upton homers, but Braves' slide continues with 4-2 loss to Dodgers

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ATLANTA - Mike Minor's outing provided the Braves with some hope.

The result was the same.

Another loss.

B.J. Upton homered and Minor worked into the seventh inning, but the Los Angeles Dodgers made it two in a row over Atlanta with a 4-2 victory Tuesday night.

For the skidding Braves, it was their 11th loss in 13 games. They dropped five games behind Washington in the NL East.

"We're always just a couple of hits away from winning the game. It can't happen like that all year," Upton said. "A lot of people look at the Nationals in front of us. But there's a lot of baseball to play. It's no time to panic."

Dan Haren (10-9) pitched six solid innings and sparked the go-ahead rally with a single in the fifth after Upton put the Braves ahead 2-1 in the fourth, sending a drive deep into the left-field seats for his ninth homer.

Haren, hitting .132 coming into the game, singled to right-centre with one out. Carl Crawford followed with a double, sending Haren to third, and the pitcher scored the tying run on Yasiel Puig's grounder to third.

Matt Kemp hit a little blooper to right that just got over the glove of second baseman Tommy La Stella, bringing home Crawford.

That was enough for the Dodgers.

Minor (4-8) matched his longest outing of the past month after being skipped his previous turn in the rotation, coming off a 10-1 loss at San Diego. The Atlanta lefty went 6 2-3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs.

"I changed some things mechanically, with some of my grips. I thought my stuff was moving better," Minor said. "It was encouraging."

With Los Angeles up 1-0, Upton homered off Haren for the sixth time in his career, three more homers than he has against any other pitcher.

But the Braves struggled again offensively, striking out 12 times. Haren surrendered six hits and both Atlanta runs, his second straight strong start after a five-game losing streak.

"Danny's the guy that sets the tone in that game, keeps us there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "The one thing you can't ever question is, is Danny going to be ready? He's going to give you everything he's got."

Kenley Jansen earned his 33rd save, fanning two in a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Dodgers padded their lead in the top half of the ninth without a hit. Braves shortstop Emilio Bonifacio botched an easy grounder, and Darwin Barney hustled all the way to second on the error. Barney moved to third on a groundout, and scored on David Hale's wild pitch.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: 2B Dee Gordon didn't start because manager Don Mattingly wants to make sure the slender infielder doesn't get too worn down in the heat of summer. "Trying to keep him at 170 (pounds), basically," Mattingly said before the game. Gordon struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

Braves: SS Andrelton Simmons took grounders before the game and continues to show improvement from a sprained left ankle. But he missed his sixth straight game, with Bonifacio starting in his place. La Stella, who had to leave Monday's game in the second inning, was back in the lineup after his right hamstring cramped because of dehydration.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-5) goes for his fifth straight win. Since July 13, he has allowed only seven earned runs in 33 innings (1.91 ERA) while limiting opposing hitters to a .198 average. He has 32 strikeouts and only four walks during his winning streak.

Braves: Ervin Santana (11-6) will also be looking to stretch his winning streak to five in a row. He has worked at least six innings in his last 13 starts, and hasn't gone less than five innings in any start this season.

OFFENSIVE WOES

In their last 11 losses, the Braves have scored only 23 runs. Only once in that span have they scored as many as four runs. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said strikeouts are ruining too many potential rallies. "That's what we need to get better at," he said.

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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