LOS ANGELES - When Ryan Langerhans homered to open the eighth inning, just about everyone at Dodger Stadium believed all it did was provide the Atlanta Braves with another run in a one-sided victory.
It turned out to be the difference on opening day.
Adam LaRoche and Andruw Jones hit three-run homers off Derek Lowe to stake Atlanta to a big lead Monday, and the Braves held on to beat the Dodgers 11-10 to spoil manager Grady Little’s debut and disappoint a turnout of 56,000 — the largest single-game regular-season crowd in Dodger Stadium history.
“When I hit it, that was the furthest thing from my mind — that that would be the run that held up,” said Langerhans, who hit Franquelis Osoria’s first pitch over the right field fence. “The first three at-bats, I was a little jumpy. He got a two-seamer up I could hit. I was just happy to have a good swing, hit one out of the park on opening day.”
The Braves, beginning their quest for a 15th straight division championship, led 11-5 after Langerhans’ homer. The Dodgers scored three in their half of the eighth and two in the ninth before Chris Reitsma, the seventh Atlanta pitcher, got the final out.
“It was a struggle on both sides,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “The long ball always helps. We didn’t hit particularly great and we pitched super all spring. It was the other way around today.”
Tim Hudson, making his fourth opening-day start, entered with an 87-4 record in 112 outings when he’s received at least four runs of support. The Braves staked Hudson to a 4-0 lead before he threw a pitch, and led 8-1 before the 30-year-old right-hander was chased in the fifth.
Oscar Villarreal worked 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the victory. Reitsma, who got the final four outs, survived the two-run ninth to earn a save.
Jose Cruz Jr. had four of the Dodgers’ 17 hits to equal a career high. Rafael Furcal had three hits and scored three runs against his former team, and Jeff Kent had four RBIs.
“There was a lot of excitement in that ballgame out there today,” Little said. “Our kids kept coming back.”
Regarding Lowe, Little said: “He’s had better days than today, and he’ll have many more.”
Marcus Giles singled to start the game, and one out later, Chipper Jones hit what appeared to be a double-play grounder to second. But Kent booted the ball for an error, Andruw Jones followed with an RBI single, and LaRoche hit a 1-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer.
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