Jair Jurrjens was an All-Star last season. Now he's headed to the minors.
The struggling Atlanta Braves pitcher was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after lasting only three-plus innings Monday night in a 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I don't think he's where he wants to be yet," batterymate David Ross said. "I caught him his last outing and I thought he was a lot better tonight, as far as locating pitches. But he's still searching to find it."
Jurrjens is 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts. Last year he led the Braves with 13 wins despite two trips to the disabled list and pitched in his first All-Star game. He had a 1.82 ERA over his first 11 starts in 2011 and became the first Atlanta pitcher to start a season 5-0 with an ERA under 2.00 since Tom Glavine in 2000.
Jurrjens retired only seven of the 17 batters he faced — including opposing pitcher Chris Capuano on a sacrifice bunt — and was charged with five runs on nine hits.
It was the first time Jurrjens failed to record a strikeout in 42 starts since April 29, 2010, at St. Louis, when he departed after one inning with a strained left hamstring.
"He lives off strike one, and they didn't let us get that," Ross said. "They attacked his pitches and they didn't let him get ahead in the count. They had a real good game plan against him and they had a lot of balls that fell in."
Ross and Dan Uggla homered for the Braves, who had won 10 of 12 after opening the season with four straight losses.
Third baseman Chipper Jones, who is 1 for 13 with five strikeouts against Capuano, sat this one out on the eve of his 40th birthday because of a troublesome left knee — the one he had surgery on in March to repair a torn meniscus. The seven-time All-Star announced a month ago that this will be his final season of a big league career that began in 1993 and included a batting title in 2008 — along with 11 stints on the disabled list.
Capuano (2-0) allowed a run and six hits in seven innings. The left-hander, who pitched a two-hitter against Atlanta with a career-high 13 strikeouts last August in a 6-0 win for the New York Mets, had a much more difficult time with the Braves' lineup on this occasion.
He needed 27 pitches to get out of the first inning, striking out Jason Heyward on a full count with the bases loaded, and escaped another jam in the fourth by retiring leadoff man Michael Bourn on a grounder with two runners in scoring position.
"We had some really good opportunities. And to his credit, he really did bear down in the big situations and pitched out of it," Ross said. "This guy doesn't give in. He pitched well against us last year in New York, and he does a good job of keeping us off balance. We had a good game plan against him, but just couldn't come through with the big hit. And that's a credit to him."
The Braves pulled off an unorthodox double play in the fifth. Matt Kemp tried to score all the way from first on Andre Ethier's single to left-center, running through third base coach Tim Wallach's stop sign. Left fielder Matt Diaz relayed to shortstop Jack Wilson, who threw a perfect strike to Ross for the tag on Kemp. Ross completed the double play with a snap throw to first baseman Freddie Freeman after Ethier strayed too far off the bag.
"That was exciting. It all happened so fast," Ross said. "Anytime you get somebody trying to run over you, you get a little amped up. A guy as big and fast as Matt Kemp running around third and trying to run you over gets your blood pumping. As soon as I turned, I saw Freddie throw his hands up and I threw it to him. It was still 5-1, but I still felt like it kept us in the ballgame for a little bit longer and within reach with our offense. So I was fired up."
Juan Uribe tied a career high with four hits and drove in three runs for Los Angeles. A.J. Ellis had a pair of RBI singles to help the Dodgers improve to an NL-best 13-4.
Uribe came in batting .211 with one RBI in 38 at-bats over his first 11 games, and returned to the lineup Sunday after missing four games with an injured left wrist.
"I was hurt last year, but I wanted to play and show the guys I could play and help the team," said Uribe, in the second season of a three-year, $21 million contract after helping San Francisco win the 2010 World Series. "I'm not putting too much pressure on myself right now. For me, it was just important for us to win the game. That's why I come to the ballpark."
NOTES: Atlanta will make a corresponding roster move Tuesday to replace Jurrjens. ... Freeman was chosen NL player of the week for the first time in his career, wresting the honors away from Kemp, who was the first player to win the award in the first two weeks of a season since OF Tony Armas did it with Oakland in 1981. ... Capuano was the ninth left-handed starter the Braves have faced in their first 17 games (5-4), and they'll get another on Wednesday night in Ted Lilly.