Tuesday December 1st, 2015 9:44AM

Braves finally get the better of Dodgers, 3-2

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves needed six tries to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers this season.<br /> <br /> Justin Upton thinks the Braves took too long.<br /> <br /> "We've battled them hard and we've let some games get away late," Upton said. "It's nice to get a win. We had to work for this one, so it was nice to see."<br /> <br /> Ervin Santana won his sixth straight start at Turner Field, Upton drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning and the Atlanta Braves snapped a two-game skid with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.<br /> <br /> Andrelton Simmons returned to the lineup after missing six games with a sprained left ankle and had two RBIs for the Braves, who had lost 11 of 13.<br /> <br /> Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-6) left the game with a right gluteus muscle injury after allowing six hits and three runs with two walks and seven strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings.<br /> <br /> "I don't think it's something serious right now," Ryu said through a translator. "It's not like my arm blew out. I think I can jump right back on the mound. I just want to be cautious of it as well."<br /> <br /> The victory allowed second-place Atlanta to stay five games behind Washington in the NL East.<br /> <br /> Los Angeles, which leads San Francisco by five games in the NL West, was trying to earn a sixth straight win over the Braves for the first time since Sept. 20, 1987-April 16, 1988.<br /> <br /> Santana (12-6) improved to 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last six starts overall, giving up eight hits, two runs and two walks with nine strikeouts in six innings. The right-hander improved to 8-2 with a 3.48 ERA at Turner Field this year.<br /> <br /> Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel got the last three outs to earn his 35th save in 39 chances. He walked the first batter he faced, pinch-hitter Andre Either, and the next batter, Dee Gordon, reached on a bunt single.<br /> <br /> Kimbrel struck out Yasiel Puig for the first out and gave up a single to Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases before Matt Kemp grounded into a double play to end the game.<br /> <br /> "The moment doesn't get away from him," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Kimbrel. "He has the maturity of being in situations closing big games, but he doesn't get rattled a lot."<br /> <br /> The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI singles by Carl Crawford and Miguel Rojas.<br /> <br /> The Braves cut the lead to 2-1 in their half of the second when Evan Gattis doubled, moved to third on a bunt and scored on Simmons' RBI groundout.<br /> <br /> Chris Johnson, who was hitting .434 against left-handers this season, decided on his own to move over Gattis with a rare sacrifice against Ryu.<br /> <br /> "Whatever it takes to win ballgames, whatever it takes to runs, we've got to do that," Johnson said. "We can't sit on our ego or anything like that. If I have to bunt, I have to bunt."<br /> <br /> Simmons' bloop RBI single in the fourth tied the score 2-2.<br /> <br /> Atlanta went up in the fifth. Jason Heyward, batting leadoff for the first time since June 17, singled, advanced when Freeman was hit by a pitch and scored from second on Upton's RBI single.<br /> <br /> Puig went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and one walk.<br /> <br /> TRAINER'S ROOM<br /> <br /> Dodgers: Ryu grabbed the back of his top right leg after as he stood in front of the mound after walking B.J. Upton in the sixth and motioned for a trainer. He walked off the field under his own power. The Dodgers are listing him as day to day.<br /> <br /> Braves: Simmons, who went 1 for 4, appeared to run and field with no ill effects after missing the last six games with a sprained left ankle.<br /> <br /> UP NEXT<br /> <br /> Dodgers: RHP Roberto Hernandez (6-8) will make his second start since arriving in an Aug. 8 trade with Philadelphia, has a 2.87 ERA and a .189 opponents' batting average in his last eight games.<br /> <br /> Braves: RHP Aaron Harang (9-6) didn't receive a decision in his last five starts despite a 2.81 ERA.<br /> <br /> SMILES IN THE USA: Atlanta bullpen coach Eddie Perez, a native of Venezuela, said before the game that he took a U.S. oath of naturalization in the morning with his family in attendance. Perez, the 1999 NLCS MVP and a Braves coach since 2005, was shown on the video board before the start of the fourth inning and waved to the cheering crowd.
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