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Jurrjens, offense lead way in rout of Dodgers

Jurrjens, offense lead way in rout of Dodgers

ATLANTA -- When Jair Jurrjens viewed the lineup that had been constructed to support him, he certainly had reason to believe he had little margin for error. But in the midst of producing another gem, he saw Alex Gonzalez and Troy Glaus negate the fact that Chipper Jones, Martin Prado and Jason Heyward weren't around to provide support.

Bothered by the offensive struggles that were displayed during the first two games of this series, the Braves unleashed their frustrations against Vicente Padilla and enjoyed a 13-1 win over the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon at Turner Field.

"[Jurrjens] made it pretty darn easy today and threw another super ballgame," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "It was good to see the hitting explode like it did."

While improving to 16-1 in home day games this year, the Braves were led by the four-RBI performances tallied by Gonzalez and Glaus. With Prado, Heyward and Jones all sidelined by injuries, Cox constructed a lineup that looked like it would have only been deemed daunting if utilized in a split-squad Spring Training game.

But by the time the afternoon was completed, the Braves had matched a season high with 16 hits and prolonged the woes of the Dodgers, who have been limited to two runs or fewer in four of their past five games.

In other words, this wasn't a good time for them to be facing the Braves, who have seen their starting pitchers post a 1.58 ERA through the first 14 games of this month.

"It's not pretty right now," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Certainly, we're not playing like a club that's been to the postseason the last couple of years."

While Jones will miss the remainder of the season, the Braves' lineup should receive a spark when Prado makes his expected return Tuesday. His presence will certainly be enhanced if Glaus is able to continue showing signs of regaining the powerful form that he showed in May and during the first three weeks of June.

Glaus' three-run homer chased Padilla and capped the four-run fifth inning that provided more than enough support for Jurrjens, who allowed just one earned run and six hits in seven innings. This marked the second time in five games that Braves first baseman had homered. Before this stretch, he had gone 129 at-bats without a blast.

"Fortunately, we were able to get some runs early and just let JJ do his thing," said Glaus, who entered Sunday with just four RBIs in his previous 18 games.

On the way to notching his fifth win in the six decisions he's posted since returning from the disabled list, Jurrjens battled out of a couple troubling jams and gained some comfort courtesy of the four-run third inning that was capped by Gonzalez's two-run triple.

After breezing through the first two innings in a span of 15 pitches, Padilla began a 28-pitch third by surrendering a leadoff single to Brooks Conrad. Melky Cabrera then kept his weight back and drilled Padilla's slow curve into the left-center-field gap for an RBI double.

"We did a good job of going the opposite way, which is always a good idea against Padilla," Cox said. "He's tricky, sneaky quick and he has the 55-mph curve. If you try to pull him, pull him and pull him, you're not going to win the battle."

Jurrjens delivered a sacrifice bunt before Omar Infante and Rick Ankiel delivered RBI singles in front of the two-run triple that Gonzalez drilled into the right-center-field gap. During their first five at-bats of the third inning, the Braves had tallied five hits, or half the total they had notched while scoring just two runs in the previous 20 innings of this series.

Gonzalez added a seventh-inning sacrifice fly and then ended his productive display with an eighth-inning RBI single. The veteran shortstop had compiled just 10 RBIs in the 27 previous games he'd played since being acquired from the Blue Jays during the All-Star break.

"We've got guys that are capable of stepping up and they're doing it," said Braves catcher Brian McCann, whose fifth-inning sacrifice fly added to the woes incurred by Padilla, who was charged with eight earned runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Jurrjens proved perfect in three of his first five innings and escaped trouble in the other two frames. Scott Podsednik began the game with a double and then advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt. The Braves' 24-year-old right-hander then set the tone for the day by striking out Andre Ethier and ending the first inning with a James Loney groundout.

Loney's fourth-inning, one-out double gave the Dodgers runners at second and third base. Jurrjens responded by victimizing Matt Kemp with one of his seven strikeouts. Ronnie Belliard then grounded out against the Braves hurler, who has allowed just four earned runs in the 20 1/3 innings he's worked this month.

"When he got in trouble today with second and third and no outs, it was [a 96-mph fastball] to Kemp," Cox said. "He's always been able to reach back and do that."

Jurrjens was temporarily hobbled when he was struck above the left ankle with a Podsednik comebacker in the sixth inning. But the determined pitcher rebounded quickly and ended his outing in impressive fashion. After the Dodgers loaded the bases in the seventh with nobody out, the lone run they scored came via Brad Ausmus' double play.

"We're just trying to have fun," Jurrjens said. "We want to really take this team to the playoffs, and we're doing everything we can to do it."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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