08/08/09 3:37 AM ET
Dodgers can't close door on Braves
Broxton blows save in ninth; Atlanta wins it in 12th
By David Ely / MLB.com
Broxton allowed a game-tying single to Garret Anderson in the ninth on Friday, and three innings later, the Braves finished the job when Yunel Escobar hit an RBI single off Scott Elbert. The next batter, Ryan Church, added insurance with a three-run homer to lift Atlanta to a 9-5 win in 12 innings at Dodger Stadium.
It was Broxton's fourth blown save of the year, as the closer has grown a reputation for being an unflappable presence on the mound.
But his concentration might have been broken Friday night when a rogue fan briefly ran through right field during the top of the ninth.
The stoppage came during the at-bat of Braves center fielder Nate McLouth, whom Broxton went on to walk to put the tying run on first with one out.
Two batters later, Anderson singled home McLouth to tie the game at 5.
"We had a couple of opportunities to score some runs and we didn't," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
"It was one of those unfortunate games. There's not much you can point to, other than the fact that we had some opportunities and we didn't do it. Time ran out of the hour glass, basically."
Under most circumstances, the Dodgers' inability to eke out a tight game at home would be the main story. But not when starter Chad Billingsley exits the game after six innings with a strained left hamstring.
The injury occurred when Billingsley ran out of the batter's box after singling in the bottom of the sixth.
"[I was] running down the first-base line, and about halfway I felt a grab in my left hamstring," Billingsley said after the game. "No good thoughts were going through my mind at that time."
After the inning ended, Billingsley debated whether to alert the Dodgers' medical staff or head back to the mound and try to pitch through the seventh.
"I was thinking to myself, 'Should I say something now, or if I should go back out there and try to throw?'" Billingsley said.
"I went back out there and tried to throw one pitch and couldn't do it, so I just walked off the mound."
Billingsley now has had back-to-back starts -- both against the Braves -- cut short because of a hamstring problem. On Sunday in Atlanta, Billingsley left after five innings with a right hamstring cramp.
And to add to Billingsley's frustrations, each start was shaping up to be a standout outing. On Sunday he threw five shutout innings with nine strikeouts, and on Friday, he needed just 78 pitches to get through six innings.
"I can't control what happens," Billingsley said. "Last start was going good and it cramped up, and this start was going well again. Stuff happens that you can't control."
Torre said that Billingsley is going to get checked out Saturday morning, and the manager didn't know if the injury would affect Billingsley's next scheduled start on Wednesday in San Francisco.
"I wish I knew. We'll let you know tomorrow," Torre said. "Early signs are that it's not a full-blown thing."
Billingsley also said that the hamstring strain didn't look too serious, but he looked a little distraught about the state of his left leg.
"You never know," he said. "Some little things linger on a little bit."
The Dodgers' best chance to win the game came in the bottom of the 11th.
Russell Martin opened the inning with an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Orlando Hudson.
After Juan Pierre walked, Rafael Furcal moved both runners over with a groundout. Atlanta intentionally walked Thursday's hero, Andre Ethier, to load the bases for Tony Abreu, but Abreu grounded out in his first at-bat of the season to end the inning.
The loss was just the Dodgers' second in an extra-inning game at Dodger Stadium. They are 10-4 in extra-inning affairs overall this season.
"You can't win them all," Billingsley said. "It happens. We've got to come back tomorrow."
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.