(SportsNetwork.com) - A battle of playoff hopefuls commences Monday night at Turner Field, where the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves will tangle for the next four games.
The Dodgers are 4 1/2 games ahead of the slumping San Francisco Giants for the National League West lead, while the Braves are 3 1/3 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Los Angeles is 3-2 on its nine-game road trip and was able to salvage the finale of a three-game weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers with Sunday's 5-1 win at Miller Park.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw improved to 14-2 this season and won his 11th consecutive decision by holding the NL Central-leading Brewers to a run on six hits over eight innings. Kershaw also drove in a run and scored for the Dodgers, who have won the left-hander's last 13 starts dating back to May 28.
"(Kershaw) probably didn't have his best stuff and he was fighting against himself," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "To go eight and keep that team to one run, it was a clinic on how to win when you don't have close to your best stuff."
Ellis homered, Miguel Rojas had three hits and a run scored and Adrian Gonzalez recorded a pair of doubles in the win. Gonzalez has multi-hit performances in each of his last four games. Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig did not play Sunday because of a sore back and has gone 0-for-4 in back-to- back games. Puig has three hits in the last six games.
Los Angeles has the NL's best record at 67-52 and avoided its first three-game sweep of the season. It has won 11 of the last 16 games and is 37-25 on the road this season.
Kevin Correia will make his LA debut Monday after he being acquired from Minnesota this weekend. Correia was 5-13 in 23 starts with the Twins and will give the Dodgers' rotation some rest. He is 1-5 in his last six decisions and tossed six innings of three-run ball in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to San Diego.
Correia, a right-hander and former All-Star, has a 3-3 record to go along with a 4.20 ERA in 12 career games (8 starts) against the Braves. He talked about his recent trade to the Dodgers.
"It's always tough leaving guys who you played with for a while because they become friends of yours, but it's nice to go somewhere and play some important baseball games at the end of the year," Correia said. "It's exciting."
Atlanta took two of three matchups with the Nationals this weekend and Sunday's 3-1 win was highlighted by starting pitcher Alex Wood. Wood struck out 12 batters and walked three in 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run and five hits.
"It was just going to be his game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the left-hander. "We were going to try to take him as far as we could."
Justin Upton homered and both Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis drove in a run for the Braves, who are still just 2-9 in the last 11 games because of a recent winless (0-8) road trip. Upton's homer gave him 1,000 hits and 500 RBI in his career.
"Freddie Freeman decided that every single day he was going to remind me how close I was," Upton said. "I finally got it done tonight."
Gonzalez was impressed with Upton's milestone, too.
"A thousand hits and 500 RBIs all in the same swing," Gonzalez said. "That's something you can talk about for a long time."
The Braves will also welcome Oakland to town on this 10-game homestand and hope All-Star Julio Teheran can find his rhythm when he takes the mound Monday. Teheran has lost back-to-back starts and was reached for six runs and nine hits in six innings of a 7-3 loss at Seattle on Wednesday.
Teheran has given up 11 runs in the last three starts and is 10-8 with a 2.92 earned run average. The right-hander has fared well at home, going 4-1 in 11 starts, and recently lost his only career start against the Dodgers on July 31. In a 2-1 loss at Dodger Stadium, Teheran pitched well and allowed both runs across eight innings with nine K's and three walks. He was opposed by Kershaw in that one and the LA star went the distance.
Los Angeles swept that three-game series with the Braves in late July and has won five of the last seven meetings between the two ballclubs.