LOS ANGELES -- Life on the road has been mighty frustrating for the Braves this season. At times, it has seemed like they've encountered every pitfall possible. But they can at least say they have still avoided the ultimate embarrassment. Hiroki Kuroda might have come up short in his bid for perfection at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. But the Dodgers right-hander was still simply dominant with a one-hitter that carried the Dodgers to a 3-0 win over the Braves. "That's the best stuff we've seen this year," Braves All-Star catcher Brian McCann said. "[Rich] Harden pitched a game like that and [Ryan] Dempster did, too. He had a 95 mph sinker that was just dropping off the table. There was nothing we could do tonight to get that guy."More
Mark Teixeira's eighth-inning leadoff double into the right-field corner was the only thing that stood between Kuroda and perfection. That was the only baserunner the 33-year-old right-hander allowed while tossing his second career shutout. Kuroda's other shutout came in his previous home start on June 6 against the Cubs. While that four-hit effort that included 11 strikeouts might have been impressive, it didn't create the historical buzz of this one. After he retired Gregor Blanco to finish the Braves, the home crowd continued to roar, and the Japanese hurler, who was making his 16th career Major League start, tipped his cap after getting some prodding from his catcher, Russell Martin. "It was one of the best-pitched games that I've seen this year," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "It was just a dominating performance." Unfortunately, this domination once again came at the expense of Braves starter Jorge Campillo, who has seen the Braves score one run or less while he's been in line for a decision during four of his past six starts. Through the first four innings, the game's only hit came courtesy of Blake DeWitt's third-inning leadoff single. Two batters later, Campillo induced a double-play grounder that was fielded by Yunel Escobar, who enjoyed his second straight sterling defensive performance. After walking James Loney to begin the bottom of the fifth, Campillo paid the price courtesy of Nomar Garciaparra's one-out, two-run homer. Before allowing two homers in his previous start against the Phillies, the Braves hurler had allowed just one home run over the course of his previous five starts. "Our guy pitched a great game," said Cox, who needed a strong start after Sunday's 17-inning win over the Astros taxed his bullpen. "We wanted him to go six or seven innings and he gave us that." After Matt Kemp capped the Dodgers' three-run fifth inning with an RBI single, the Braves were facing a definite uphill battle and some fatigue. Sunday's marathon game and a flight delay led to them getting to their Pasadena hotel around 2:30 a.m. PT. But McCann, who entered Sunday's game in the eighth inning and then caught all of Monday's game, didn't believe fatigue played a factor in this dominant effort. "I don't think if we'd had full rest we'd have hit him tonight," McCann said. "He didn't give us much to hit and when he did, it just fell off the table." For a while, there was reason to wonder if the Braves were heading toward the same fate they experienced on May 18, 2004, when Randy Johnson tossed a perfect game against them. Instead, this was just another unfulfilled night outside of Atlanta. This was the 30th loss in 42 road games for the Braves and it would have been even more frustrating had Teixeira not battled back from an 0-2 count to direct a 2-2 slider down the right-field line. "We hit two balls good all night and that was really it," Cox said, referring to Jason Perry's sharp third-inning groundout and Teixeira's double. There had been 10 previous no-hitters in Dodgers history and the only other perfect game in the organization's history came courtesy of Sandy Koufax in 1965. Entering Monday, the fewest hits the Braves had recorded in a game this year came on April 7, when Aaron Cook and two Rockies relievers limited them to three hits. Following his double, Teixeira advanced to third base on McCann's deep flyout to left-center field. But he was left stranded when Kelly Johnson popped out to shallow left field and Mark Kotsay followed with an inning-ending groundout. "[Kuroda] really only left two balls up all night and that was in the last inning," Cox said. Kuroda, who was making his second start since missing three weeks because of shoulder tendinitis, faced the Braves in Spring Training this year and again on April 20, when he allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings. Based on what they saw in those outings, the Braves weren't prepared for what they saw on this nearly perfect Monday night. "He wasn't even close to being the same pitcher," Johnson said. "I don't know where he was hiding that stuff."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less