By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Yu Darvish is making an impact for the Los Angeles Dodgers before even joining the team.
Kenta Maeda allowed only two hits in seven scoreless innings Tuesday night, leading the streaking Dodgers past the Atlanta Braves 3-2 for their ninth straight win.
After the game, Maeda acknowledged he believed he needed to protect his spot in a crowded rotation.
“Yes, I do feel the pressure,” Maeda said through a translator. “That’s the reality right now. We have a lot of really good pitchers who are producing.”
The slumping Braves were shut down by Maeda (10-4) but cut their deficit to one run with Johan Camargo’s two-run homer off Josh Ravin in the eighth. Atlanta ended the inning with Brandon Phillips, who had a pinch-hit single, on third base.
Maeda struck out six and walked one. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the right-hander was “just attacking the strike zone. It was fun to watch.”
Darvish, acquired by the Dodgers from the Texas Rangers on Monday, will join the team Wednesday. Roberts said Darvish will make his debut with the team when he starts Friday at the New York Mets.
Roberts said he knows his starting pitchers feel pressure to keep their spots.
“I think that plays into it, the competition,” he said.
Cody Bellinger led off the fourth with his 29th homer into the Braves’ bullpen in right-center off Atlanta starter Lucas Sims (0-1).
Kenley Jansen struck out the side in the ninth for his 28th save in 29 chances.
Yasiel Puig doubled and scored on Chris Taylor’s double in the third. Puig also singled, stole third base and scored on catcher Tyler Flowers’ throwing error in the fifth.
Sims and second baseman Ozzie Albies made their major league debuts for Atlanta, which has lost six in a row. Sims yielded three runs and six hits in six innings.
“Definitely a day that I will never forget,” Sims said. “I wish I could have executed a couple of pitches a little better, but for sure it was a special night.”
The Braves have lost 12 of 15 since reaching .500 at 45-45 on July 16.
Chase Utley, who singled while pinch-hitting for Maeda in the eighth, was thrown out at the plate by Nick Markakis while trying to score from second on Bellinger’s single to right field.
Jim Johnson, who lost his sole claim as the Braves’ closer with eight blown saves, pitched a perfect seventh.
Braves LF Matt Adams left after five innings due to dizziness. … With Braves LF Matt Kemp on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring strain, Adams moved from first base to left field and Freddie Freeman returned to first base. Freeman shifted to third base last month to keep Adams’ bat in the lineup.
NOT AN ALL-STAR AT TEXTING
Roberts said he exchanged “a couple” text messages with Darvish “and welcomed him to the Dodgers.” He said Darvish replied to say “his English is good but his text response is not very good. I just gave him a thumbs up, which is universal, and we’ll catch up tomorrow.”
QUITE A ROLL
The Dodgers (75-31) keep building on the best record in the majors. They have their third winning streak of at least nine games, following streaks of 10 (June 16-25) and 11 (July 4-19) games. Since a loss to the Padres on July 2, the Dodgers are 20-2, with the only defeats coming at home to the Braves on July 20 and 21.
The 20-year-old Albies walked and scored on Camargo’s homer. Albies became the youngest player in the majors with his promotion from Triple-A Gwinnett.
RARE DUAL DEBUTS
Sims and Albies became the first pair of Atlanta teammates to start together in their first major league game since right-hander Al Santorini and catcher Walt Hriniak on Sept. 10, 1968, against San Francisco.
Dodgers: RHP Brock Stewart (0-0, 0.00 ERA) allowed two hits and no runs in two innings of relief during his only appearance against the Braves on July 20. He has not permitted an earned run in 16 2/3 innings this season.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (7-9, 5.09) will look for his first career win in his eighth start against the Dodgers. Teheran is 0-6 with a 5.32 ERA vs. the Dodgers. He gave up four runs, three earned, in 6 1/3 innings of a 6-2 loss at Los Angeles on July 22.