The Atlanta Braves are winning games in clutch ways as they continue to press for a possible Wild Card spot and aim at the first-place Washington Nationals in the National League East.
Last night, Juan Francisco's game-winning, pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning helped the Braves down the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3, in the opener of a three-game set.
Tonight, Atlanta right-hander Ben Sheets tries to bounce back from his second loss of 2012. He suffered a 6-5 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday and has struggled against the Dodgers as evidenced by a 3-6 mark and a 3.78 ERA in 10 career games.
Aaron Harang toes the rubber for the Dodgers. The right-hander is 3-2 over his last seven starts and is coming off a victory at Pittsburgh on Monday. He's 1-3 with a 4.53 ERA in 10 lifetime starts against the Braves.
The Braves are hosting tonight's annual Civil Rights Game for a second consecutive season. Both teams played an important role in Major League Baseball's integration. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by playing with the Dodgers in 1947. Sam Jethroe was the first Braves' African-American player in 1950, and he captured the NL Rookie of the Year award.
In Friday's contest, David Ross and Paul Janish both lined singles to right field off Brandon League (0-1) before Francisco poked a base hit through the hole on the left side to plate Ross.
Jason Heyward tied the game with a two-out, run-scoring single in Atlanta's two-run eighth inning.
The Braves are second in the National League in two-out runs.
"That was a great game, it was kind of a playoff atmosphere," Ross said. "Friday fireworks, we got a really good crowd."
After hitting a pair of homers on his bobblehead promotion Thursday, Chipper Jones belted another long ball Friday on his commemorative print night for Atlanta, which has won four straight games and sits four games behind the Nationals for the NL East lead.
Tommy Hanson, activated from the disabled list Friday after dealing with a lower back strain, surrendered three runs on seven hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings.
Jonny Venters (5-3) picked up the win following a scoreless top of the 11th.
Andre Ethier smacked a two-run shot for the Dodgers, who have dropped two straight on the heels of a four-game winning streak and sit one-half game behind San Francisco for NL West supremacy.
"A loss is difficult, it hurts a little more when you have a lead, especially what we went through yesterday," League said.
The Braves have won three of the four meetings with L.A. this season.