Rumored Atlanta trade chip Jaime Garcia pitched seven solid innings and slugged a grand slam Friday night as the Braves handed former teammate Alex Wood his first loss of the year and the Dodgers their second loss in a row, a 12-3 rout at Dodger Stadium.
Garcia’s third career homer, on an 0-2 pitch, was the first slam by an Atlanta pitcher since 1966. It capped a five-run fifth inning and ended the night for Wood (11-1), whose ERA jumped from 1.56 to 2.17. Tyler Flowers slugged a three-run homer off reliever Grant Dayton in the sixth inning, also on an 0-2 pitch. Estimated by Statcast™ at 447 feet, it tied Brandon Phillips for the longest Braves home run of the year.
Atlanta has scored 18 runs in the two games against the Dodgers, and the 12 runs the Braves put up on Friday are the most they have scored at Dodger Stadium in franchise history.
“It’s baseball,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You never know. We came off a really tough series at home, getting swept by the Cubs, and came out here and the guys kind of put that behind them, and we played two pretty good ballgames so far.”
On the mound, Garcia (4-7) allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out four with one walk. Wood allowed a pair of first-inning runs, dropped a Garcia popup in the fourth inning that allowed two unearned runs and served up Freddie Freeman’s 18th home run before Garcia’s slam. Wood walked four (one intentional) and struck out four in 4 2/3 innings, his shortest start since April 10.
“I would guess it probably wasn’t his best day,” Flowers said of Wood. “My at-bats, at least, he fell behind, so that makes you a little more susceptible to finding some barrels. We had a good approach obviously and took advantage of the mistakes when we got them.”
The Dodgers, who had won 31 of 35, have lost back-to-back games for the first time since June 5-6 to Washington, also at home.
“One of those days, and we haven’t had many of those,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Jaime was good and he made pitches and he was comfortable. We’ve got to flush this one out and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Braves doubled their lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning on Wood’s error. With two out and runners on second and third, Garcia popped up a 1-2 pitch near the foul line between home and first base. First baseman Cody Bellinger lost sight of the ball and Wood camped under it, then dropped it for a two-run error.
“Cody just lost it, I think,” Wood said. “Dark sky and it can be tough at night, sometimes. I looked at the last second to see if anybody was coming, I heard [Yasmani Grandal] yelling my name. In retrospect, you won’t see me trying to catch a fly ball anymore.”
Wood had an unlucky first inning. Ender Inciarte led off with an infield single that shortstop Corey Seager was unable to barehand. Johan Camargo’s line drive cleared the head of a very shallow Enrique Hernandez in center field for a double, and when Inciarte tried to score on the play, he kicked the ball out of Grandal’s glove, which also allowed Camargo to advance to third. Camargo scored on a Flowers single that shot past third baseman Justin Turner, who had cheated toward the foul line just before the pitch.
Garcia’s grand slam was the first by a Braves pitcher since Tony Cloninger hit two in the same game on July 3, 1966, at San Francisco. He is the third pitcher in MLB to hit a slam on an 0-2 pitch since at least 1930 (per Baseball-Reference.com). The previous pitcher with a grand slam against the Dodgers was Philadelphia’s Jeff Juden in 1995 off John Cummings.
On Saturday, the Braves will give the ball to Julio Teheran, who owns a 2.53 road ERA, good for fifth in the National League. But the righty has struggled against the Dodgers in his career and is 0-5 with a 5.50 ERA in six starts vs. Los Angeles. First pitch is slated for 8:10 p.m. CT.