By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jaime Garcia maintains a poker face most of the time. But the Atlanta pitcher couldn’t stop smiling after the biggest hit of his career.
Garcia launched a grand slam off previously unbeaten Alex Wood to highlight the Braves’ 12-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.
“That was pretty unbelievable,” Garcia said. “I’ve never hit a grand slam in my life, not even in Little League.”
The subject of trade speculation lately, Garcia limited Los Angeles to three runs over seven innings as the Braves won their second straight at Dodger Stadium. The NL West leaders hadn’t lost two in a row since June 5-6 against Washington. They’ve been outscored 18-6 in the first two games of the series.
It was the Dodgers’ most lopsided defeat of the season.
“No panic here,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s one loss and we still feel good about ourselves.”
Wood (11-1) got knocked around by his former team. The All-Star left-hander gave up nine runs — seven earned — and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, tying his shortest start since joining the rotation April 21. He struck out four and walked four.
Wood allowed a career high in runs and a season high in hits while throwing a season-most 100 pitches. He hadn’t lost at home since Sept. 22, 2015.
“I didn’t have my command like usual,” Wood said. “It was tough. Just didn’t get ahead and execute.”
In Wood’s previous 12 starts, he notched 10 wins while allowing a total of 10 earned runs in 73 innings.
Garcia (4-7) had been the center of trade talk ahead of this start that had the left-hander going to Minnesota for a minor leaguer. He shook off the chatter and allowed seven hits while striking out four and walking one.
I was aware stuff was going on because of family members and friends reaching out,” Garcia said. “Last night when I went home, my focus was 100 percent getting ready for this start.”
Tyler Flowers hit a three-run homer off Grant Dayton in the sixth for the Braves, who improved to 3-8 at Dodger Stadium since the start of the 2014 season. Flowers finished 2 for 4, driving in a season high-tying four runs and scoring twice.
Garcia chased Wood with his two-out grand slam in the fifth that extended Atlanta’s lead to 9-0.
“He threw me a really good slider the pitch before,” Garcia said. “I’m just thinking, just put it in play. He just made a mistake. I hit that ball hard.”
Standing at second, Flowers heard the loud crack of Garcia’s bat on the 0-2 pitch.
“He did a great job of battling that at-bat,” Flowers said. “Other pitchers get in that spot, get down two, they just kind of wave at it and get it over with, but he was grinding and got rewarded.”
Wood’s fielding was suspect, too.
He couldn’t handle a routine popup by Garcia near the first base line with two outs in the fourth, costing the Dodgers two more runs. With first baseman Cody Bellinger watching helplessly, the ball hit the heel of Wood’s glove and caromed into foul territory. Expecting the inning to be over, Sean Rodriguez nearly ran up on Nick Markakis’ heels at the plate as they both scored on the error to make it 4-0.
“Cody just lost it; dark sky,” Wood said. “In retrospect, you probably won’t see me trying to catch a fly ball anymore.”
The Braves jumped all over Wood in the first inning. He gave up consecutive hits to open the game, with Johan Camargo’s double driving in the first run. Flowers made it 2-0 on a two-out RBI single.
Atlanta increased its lead to 5-0 on Freddie Freeman’s team-high 18th homer leading off the fifth.
The Dodgers scored their first run on Yasiel Puig’s RBI groundout in the fifth. They added two more in the seventh on Kike
Hernandez’s RBI triple and Yasmani Grandal’s RBI groundout.
The Braves’ runs were their most since July 8, when they scored 13 at Washington.
Dodgers: RHP Brandon McCarthy could be given extra rest before his next start after being bothered by a finger blister in his four-inning outing Thursday. … 1B Adrian Gonzalez, on the DL since June 12 with a herniated disk in his back, took grounders before the game. He is expected back sometime in August. … OF Andre Ethier, who hasn’t played this season because of the same injury as Gonzalez, could return in September when rosters expand. … LHP Scott Kazmir, who hasn’t pitched in the majors this season while struggling with velocity issues, is in Houston to work with a specialist on his body mechanics. … OF Andrew Toles, out for the rest of the season after surgery for a torn right ACL, is recovering well and expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
Atlanta placed C Kurt Suzuki on the bereavement list to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Hawaii. He’s expected to rejoin the team Monday in Arizona. … The Braves selected the contract of C Anthony Recker from Triple-A Gwinnett. To make room on the 40-man roster, LHP Eric O’Flaherty was released.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (7-7, 4.69 ERA) is 0-5 with a 5.50 ERA against the Dodgers in his career.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (6-4, 3.55) goes against the Braves for the first time since August 2013 when he was with Cleveland. He is 3-0 in seven career games (five starts) against Atlanta with a 1.89 ERA.