ATLANTA — The Braves relied on their specialties — pinch-hit homers and last at-bat wins — to end a record run by baseball’s best team.
Tyler Flowers hit a tiebreaking, pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth inning to lift Atlanta to a 5-3 win over Los Angeles on Wednesday night, ending the Dodgers’ nine-game winning streak.
The victory also ended the Dodgers’ major-league-record streak of 53 wins after leading at any point of a game. Los Angeles led 1-0 and 3-2 on Wednesday.
The last time the Dodgers lost after leading in a game was May 15, when they led 1-0 before losing 8-4 at San Francisco. The Cubs held the previous record, with 44 such games in a row in 1906.
Darvish joins Dodgers, as Kershaw predicted
Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish settled into his new clubhouse Wednesday and recounted a story from last month’s All-Star Game in which Clayton Kershaw predicted that the two soon would be teammates.
“They play hard,” L.A. manager Dave Roberts said of the Braves. “They play the right way. It’s a good offense. … They’re a scrappy bunch. They’ve got some athleticism.”
The Braves have hit six pinch-hit homers this season to share the major league lead with San Diego. Their 16 wins in their final at-bat lead the majors.
Flowers’ first career pinch-hit homer off Pedro Baez (3-2) drove in Johan Camargo, who walked with two outs. He certainly wasn’t surprised to be told he had never hit another homer as a pinch hitter. He is 2-for-18 in his career as a pinch hitter, so it has been easy for him to track the hits.
“I’ve only got two hits pinch hitting, so yeah, that’s the first one,” Flowers said.
Flowers said pinch hitting “hasn’t been very kind to me.”
The Braves, who were swept in a four-game series by last-place Philadelphia to close July, have played much better against the Dodgers, who have the best record in the majors. The Dodgers are 20-3 in their past 23 games, but all three of those losses have come against the Braves.
“I didn’t realize that. That’s unfortunate,” Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said of the losses to Atlanta, according to the Orange County Register. “We need to stop playing them.”
Rex Brothers (2-2) pitched 1⅓ scoreless innings for Atlanta, which snapped a six-game losing streak.
Julio Teheran allowed three runs on four hits in five innings for Atlanta. He left the game after five innings with cramping in his right thigh that he felt in a fourth-inning at-bat.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said he was being cautious by pulling Teheran and said he expects the right-hander to make his next start.
Brock Stewart allowed two runs in four innings for Los Angeles.
Braves: Matt Adams was held out after leaving Tuesday night’s game with dizziness after five innings.
The loss prevented the Dodgers, who have the best record in the majors, from recording three win streaks of at least 10 games in a season for the first time in franchise history. The Dodgers won 10 in a row from June 16-25 and 11 straight from July 4-19.
NEW THIRD BASEMAN
After 1,802 career games at second base — plus six at shortstop — Brandon Phillips made his first start at third base for Atlanta. Phillips made the move one day after rookie second baseman Ozzie Albies was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his debut.
Phillips, 36, is expected to be the Braves’ primary third baseman for at least as long as Albies remains at second.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (12-1, 2.38) suffered his only loss of the season when he allowed a career-high nine runs, seven earned, to his former Atlanta teammates in a 12-3 loss on July 21.
Braves: Rookie LHP Sean Newcomb (1-5, 4.50) allowed three run in six innings and did not receive a decision in Atlanta’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings at Los Angeles on July 23.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.