04/19/08 1:08 AM ET
Andruw's return to Atlanta ends in loss
Center fielder doubles vs. former team; Lowe shaky in start
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Dodgers signed former Brave Andruw Jones this offseason to hit homers and drive in runs, but it was his former teammate, Chipper Jones, who slugged a pair of home runs and drove in four Friday night to beat the Dodgers, 6-1.
The momentum of two blowout wins over the Pirates was halted with a sloppy Dodgers loss in which starter Derek Lowe couldn't get out of the way of comebackers -- or out of the fifth inning. Lowe was struck three times by grounders, walked four and served up Jones' three-run blast in the fifth.
Two of the five runs he allowed were unearned via a Jeff Kent fielding error that triggered a strange second inning, which included a pair of infield singles and a walk to opposing starter Jeff Bennett.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers scored with a walk, a balk and a Juan Pierre pinch-single. Andruw Jones, greeted in his Turner Field return with a mix of cheers and boos by the crowd that once adored him, scored the only Dodgers run in the seventh after he walked. He also struck out twice and doubled in his final at-bat.
But his most solid contact was a collision with shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is 50 pounds lighter and sported a bruise on the left jaw after being leveled when he ran into Jones' chest chasing Brian McCann's bloop single. Jones and Furcal played together with the Braves for six years, but they never collided like that until they became Dodgers.
About the only thing the Dodgers could feel good about was that nobody was seriously injured.
"It wasn't a very good game for us," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "We've got to be more consistent scoring runs. We've been erratic. We're capable, but after a couple good games in a row, we couldn't do anything offensively."
The Dodgers had only five hits and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. That tone was set in the first inning, when they loaded the bases with one out against fill-in starter Bennett and didn't score, as James Loney struck out -- his hitting streak ended at 15 games -- and Russell Martin flied out. Martin had a tough night, drawing a passed ball, a throwing error and getting caught stealing after a bad jump.
"I was trying to create something," Martin said. "I made an aggressive mistake."
But the Dodgers are learning that they can't afford to make mistakes, aggressive or otherwise. Like getting beat by the hottest hitter in the opposing lineup. Chipper Jones is batting .455 and has six home runs -- four in the last two games -- compared to only 11 for the entire Dodgers roster.
"We didn't pitch to the fact that we didn't want him to beat us," said Torre.
For Lowe, it was a disappointing follow to his methodical beating of the Padres on Sunday, when he allowed one run over eight innings without a walk.
"They were taking target practice at Derek all night, banging him all over the place, and I think he got frustrated at the end and tried to overthrow the ball," Torre said of Lowe, who was knocked out of his first start by a comebacker, but kept pitching after all three drillings on Friday night.
Andruw Jones was given a warm reception during pregame introductions and a loud ovation when he stepped in for his first at-bat leading off the second inning, a called strikeout on a pitch he said was well outside.
But a smattering of boos early in the game picked up steam and the crowd was pretty well divided by the time he doubled off the wall in left-center field in the ninth inning.
"You hear -- you just try to tune that out and worry about the pitcher," said Jones. "When you go to a different team, you're going to have people not agree with the move you did. Some people say they understood."
An indication of Andruw's popularity as a teammate came from Chipper.
"I've never said this before [about an opposing player], I was glad to see him get a hit," Chipper said of Andruw. "He very easily could have had three punchouts going into his last at-bat. I thought the ovation that he got at the beginning of the game was nice. I'm sure it was appreciated by him, although they turned into boos for some reason later on in the game, which I didn't necessarily agree with. He's fighting it right now, but he's going to get it. He's done it for a long time and [will again] once he gets into a groove and gets comfortable out there in his new surroundings."
Jones said his collision with Furcal could have been much worse.
"I recognized the ball late and I was going to dive and I saw Furcal," said Jones. "If I dive, I'd be the one in the hospital. Instead, I saw him and shut myself down. If not, I'd hurt him more."
Furcal's jaw jammed into Jones' broad chest.
"I'm glad he stopped," said Furcal. "If he keeps running, I don't know what happens. He's way bigger and stronger."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.