Atlanta Braves

Lowe, Dodgers stop Braves

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers aren't scoring much. It hasn't really mattered.

Derek Lowe became the latest Los Angeles starter to turn in a dominating performance, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning of a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

"It's hard to have the kind of pitching we've had on such a consistent basis," Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. "That's something you can look back and say, 'Yeah, I remember that.'

"We've struggled scoring runs and the only reason we're sitting where we are now is basically because of our starting pitchers."

Helping the Dodgers pull back into a tie with Arizona atop the AL West, Lowe retired the first 18 batters before Gregor Blanco led off the seventh with a clean single to center. Jonathan Broxton replaced Lowe after Jeff Francoeur homered in the eighth.

Lowe (7-8) gave up one run, walked two and struck out four in 7 2-3 innings. He needed to be sharp because Atlanta's Tim Hudson, who didn't allow a runner until the fifth inning, limited the Dodgers to two runs and four hits in seven innings.

"You know every pitch can change the outcome of the game, and so I think mentally you really grind out every single pitch maybe where you wouldn't if it was a bigger lead," Lowe said.

Hudson (9-7) allowed his first runner when James Loney led off the fifth with a double, then gave up a solo homer to Matt Kemp in the sixth, and an RBI single to Andruw Jones in the seventh.

The Braves' right-hander complimented his Dodgers counterpart.

"Lowe was locked in tonight. It was a good one for a while, but I gave up a couple of runs," Hudson said. "It's unfortunate that two pitches can cost you the game, but that was the case. The runs were few and far between."

Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 17th save in 20 chances in a game that lasted exactly 2 hours.Lowe extended the Dodgers' streak of exceptional starts.

On Monday night, Hiroki Kuroda took a perfect game into the eighth before Mark Teixeira hit a leadoff double. That turned out to be the Braves' only baserunner. That one lasted 2:03.

On Tuesday night, Chad Billingsley held the Braves hitless through the first four innings, although the Braves won that game 9-3.

"Our pitching staff has been carrying us all year long," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said, "They've got maybe the best total pitching staff that we've seen. Good pitching will shut you down."

Kemp homered to center, his eighth of the season, with two outs in the sixth. It was only the second hit off Hudson.

Jones, the former Braves' All-Star who has slumped in his first season in Los Angeles, singled home a run in the seventh for a 2-0 lead. Usually booed when he comes to the plate, he delivered after an intentional walk.After Blanco singled in the seventh, he advanced to third on a hit-and-run when Yunei Escobar grounded out. But Lowe then got Chipper Jones on a comebacker, and ended the threat when Andre Ethier caught Teixeira's long fly close to the wall in left.

The boos for Jones turned to cheers after his RBI single, then a standing ovation as he trotted off the field after sliding hard into second baseman Kelly Johnson to break up a possible double play.

Notes:@ Last Saturday, Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo held the Dodgers hitless, but the Dodgers still won 1-0 on an unearned run. The Angels didn't get credit for a no-hitter, since the Dodgers didn't have to bat in the ninth. ... Don Mattingly will resume his duties as Dodgers hitting coach after the All-Star break. Mattingly, hired as part of Torre's staff during the offseason, asked to be switched from hitting coach to major league special assignment coach, citing family reasons. Mike Easler, who has filled in as hitting coach on an interim basis, will remain with the organization in another capacity. ... Lowe and Hudson were teammates in the 2000 All-Star game in Atlanta, Lowe representing Boston and Hudson from Oakland. ... Hudson, who along with Barry Zito and Mark Mulder formed Oakland's "Big Three," at the beginning of this decade, became the first member of that trio to reach 2,000 innings when he retired Kemp on a grounder to shortstop to open the fourth.