Dodgers start Derek Lowe, RHP (8-7, 3.03) vs. John Smoltz, RHP (9-4, 2.98).
Dodgers: 46-36 (2nd place NL West, 1.0 GB, W1)
Braves: 43-39 (2nd place NL East, 4.0 GB, L1)
From Dodgers.com, the scouting report on the starters:
Dodgers: Lowe's ERA went down, but his loss total went up in because of a lack of run support. Lowe allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings against the D-backs, but the Dodgers were unable to score while he was in the game. Lowe overcame first-inning wildness to keep the game close. The Dodgers have scored seven runs in his seven losses and have been shut out in three of them. The righty beat the Braves in May, allowing just one unearned run in seven innings.
Braves: Two starts ago, after he completed six innings in an outing against Detroit, Smoltz told members of the media that he hoped to improve his stamina in the near future -- the telling sign that the shoulder inflammation that has troubled him for more than a month was no longer bothering him. Smoltz pitched just five innings against Washington in last start, but it wasn't because he couldn't have gone longer. Braves manager Bobby Cox removed him when the Braves took a big lead after the fifth. Smoltz was in long enough to pick up his ninth win, and he showed signs of returning to his typical dominant form. He struck out seven -- the third straight start he's notched that total -- and allowed five hits in picking up his second win since May 24, when he won career game No. 200. That was also the last outing he pitched more than six innings.
- Remember back in the days before realignment, when the Braves were somehow squished in the NL West (adding support to those who believe Americans are weak on geography) and were bitter Dodger rivals? Over a decade later, the Dodgers-Braves antipathy hasn't abated, and their annoying tomahawk chop, offensive mascot, and omnipresent TBS television coverage hasn't helped. Nor has the fact that (until last year) the Braves had won their division each year since almost before James Loney was born.
- Tonight's matchup of Smoltz vs. Lowe kicks off a fine four-game series of second-place teams. A win tonight would get the Dodgers back to 11 games over .500, which would tie their best mark this year.
- BTW, I am having dinner this evening with friends from Atlanta, one of whom is definitely a Braves fan. Any suggestions on what to say to this fine gentleman over hors d'ouevres?