Los Angeles has won five of its last seven games, all of which have come on the road. The Dodgers' 12-4 road record since the All-Star break entering Thursday was the second best in the Major Leagues.
The deadline additions of Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino have certainly played a big role in the team's recent surge. The two are hitting a collective .301 (43-for-143) with 29 RBIs in a combined total of 35 games with the Dodgers.
Matt Kemp may be the duo's biggest beneficiary. It's unlikely that Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle would have elected to pitch to Kemp with runners on second and third and first base open in the fourth inning of Wednesday's game if Ramirez's bat wasn't looming behind him. Kemp drove in both runners and Ramirez followed with an RBI double of his own in Los Angeles' eventual 9-3 win over the Pirates.
The center fielder is hitting .360 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in his first 21 games since Ramirez joined the club.
"They're kind of coming at me now, because they know I have either Dre [Andre Ethier] or Hanley behind me," Kemp said. "Dre is somebody who can drive in runs. Hanley is somebody who can drive in runs. [You] can't just walk me and not pay for it. These guys have really done a great job of driving in runs."
Looking to slow down Los Angeles' suddenly more formidable lineup on Friday will be Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson. It will be Hanson's first outing since July 30 after he went on the disabled list the following day with a strained lower back.
The start also marks the Braves' shift to a six-man rotation for a 13-day stretch. Atlanta is in the midst of 20 straight days with games and hopes the change will give its starters an extra day of rest as the chase for the playoffs heats up.
"We did it because there were some concerns about taking care of some of the guys and we only have two off-days in August," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We need to be able to go into September with all the cylinders hitting and everybody healthy. And this is one way to keep those guys healthy."
The series opener will also mark the beginning of Major League Baseball's 2012 Civil Rights Weekend, which will pay tribute to those who fought, both on and off the field, for equal rights for all Americans. Saturday's game takes the showcase spot as MLB's annual Civil Rights Game, the second straight year it has taken place in Atlanta.
Braves outfielder Jason Heyward is particularly looking forward to the event after injury forced him to miss the game last year.
"This is a good city for this event, because you know people are going to come out and raise some awareness to the whole thing about how African-Americans became a part of the game [and] the significance the Negro Leagues played," Heyward said. "Baseball is America's pastime. People put their differences aside and the game united them."
Dodgers: Capuano looks to continue success against Atlanta
Starting for Los Angeles will be left-hander Chris Capuano, who can surpass his 2011 win total with his 12th victory on Friday. He will be five days removed from taking a no-hitter into the seventh against the Marlins. He instead settled for allowing two hits in eight shutout innings and snapped a personal three-game losing streak as the Dodgers took a 5-0 win.
Capuano also accounted for Los Angeles' only win in the teams' first series this season. He surrendered one run over seven innings in the Dodgers' 7-2 win against the Braves on April 23.
Don Mattingly and Kemp were both ejected in the second inning of Thursday's game against the Pirates. Kemp -- presumably yelling at home-plate umpire Angel Campos -- was thrown out from the dugout while Ethier batted. Kemp struck out on a called third strike in the first inning.
Kemp confronted Campos and was eventually restrained by Mattingly and other Dodgers' coaches. Mattingly was also eventually ejected for the sixth time this season, more than any other Major League manager this season.
Braves: Chipper gets hit No. 2,700
Playing on the final Chipper Jones Bobblehead Day of his career, Jones blasted two home runs to improve his career hit total to 2,700. The second shot was also career home run No. 466, moving him ahead of Dave Winfield and into 32nd place on the all-time list.
Jones said he is focused on cherishing every moment as the season dwindles to an end, but there is nothing that can change his mind on retiring.
"Do I think I can come back next year and play? Yes," Jones said. "I don't want to. That's what people don't get. I've made promises to the most important people in my life, and I'm not going back on that promise."
Jair Jurrjens is still scheduled to make his next rehab start after leaving in the third inning of his start with Triple-A Gwinett on Wednesday night. The right-hander was dehydrated and spent Wednesday night in the hospital. Jurrjens has been on the disabled list since Aug. 1 with a strained right groin.
The right-hander threw 43 pitches, allowing three runs on two hits over two innings before leaving. It was his second rehab start for Gwinnett. He allowed one earned run on four hits in six innings in his first start on Aug. 10.
The Braves took the teams' first series this season, winning two games in Los Angeles from April 23-25.
The Dodgers are 12-2 in games played in the Eastern Time Zone this season.