Braves must face another lefty -- Dodgers' Kershaw

ATLANTA -- The last person the Atlanta Braves need to see on the mound is Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw.

But the left-hander will get the start Friday when the teams play the second game of a four-game series at SunTrust Park. Kershaw (3-5, 2.64 ERA) will be opposed by Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (7-6, 2.85).

It will be the third straight left-handed starter to face the Braves, who are 15-15 against southpaws.

Kershaw has made nine career starts against Atlanta and is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA. Atlanta batters are hitting just .210 against Kershaw. It will be his first appearance at SunTrust Park.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman is hitting .273 in his career against Kershaw and is the only active Brave with a homer against the lefty. But Freeman has struck out 11 times in 22 at-bats against Kershaw.

Atlanta was subdued by left-hander Ken Hill in the series opener on Thursday. Hill fired seven shutout innings in the 8-2 victory, and he improved to 5-0 in his career against the Braves.

Kershaw will be making his 15th start of the season. Despite his poor record, he has posted a 1.09 WHIP and is averaging 9.15 strikeouts per nine innings.

In his last start against Milwaukee on Saturday, Kershaw pitched six innings and gave up four runs, although only one was earned. He only threw 88 pitches and struck out five. The Dodgers lost the game 4-2 with a defensive meltdown, committing three errors.

"Kershaw threw the ball well," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. "He had good fastball command. The curveball wasn't as sharp as it normally is, but the slider was good and, for me, he pitched well enough for us to win."

Kershaw has battled injuries all season. He missed 21 games with left biceps tendinitis in May and missed 18 games with a lower back strain in June.

Atlanta is hopeful that Foltynewicz will return to the form that enabled him to make the National League All-Star team. Over his last three starts, Foltynewicz has given up 14 runs in 18 1/3 innings, a 6.88 ERA.

In his most recent start against Washington on Sunday, he gave up four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. He threw 112 pitches, one shy of his season high.

Foltynewicz has faced the Dodgers only once in his career, and that was last season, when he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings and picked up the win in Atlanta's 6-3 victory.

The Braves got second baseman Ozzie Albies back in the lineup Thursday. He had missed three games with a pulled right hamstring suffered in the first game following the All-Star break.

"I think we were confident that he checked all the boxes they wanted to see," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He went out and ran the bases today. We'll re-evaluate after the game and see where he's at."

Albies struggled against the Dodgers pitchers in his return, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in an 8-2 loss.

The Dodgers continue to lead the National League in home runs. Newly acquired Manny Machado on Thursday hit his first homer since joining the Dodgers via a trade from Baltimore.

Los Angeles has 140 home runs, including a major-league-leading 99 solo shots. The Dodgers lead the league in home runs per game, home runs per at-bat, extra-base hits, slugging percentage and OPS.

The Dodgers also got a piece of their bullpen back on Thursday when Pedro Baez was reinstated from the disabled list. The right-hander missed more than a month with right biceps tendinitis. He worked a scoreless inning of relief in a non-save situation to finish the series opener.

On Thursday, the Braves acquired left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for an international signing slot. Venters, 33, went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 22 games, including one start, for Tampa Bay this season.
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