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Nathan Eovaldi and the kids lead Dodgers to sixth straight win, 2-1

September 3, 2011 |  7:49 pm

Nathan3 Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t supposed to be here. Not in the major leagues, not playing with the big boys.

Not this season, anyway. Probably not even next season.

But a series of injuries to Dodgers starting pitchers caused them to dip into the ranks of double-A Chattanooga for the second time this season and call on Eovaldi. It wasn’t exactly a move of desperation, but it was in the neighborhood.

Only in his sixth and final start of the season Saturday, Eovaldi has at least put his name in the conversation for the Dodgers’ rotation for next year.

Eovaldi struggled with his control, but the 21-year-old showed poise in containing the damage, giving up only one run in his six innings of an eventual 2-1, 10-inning victory for the Dodgers.

It made for the Dodgers’ sixth consecutive victory, a season high. The suddenly hot club has won 11 of its last 12 games and pulled within two games of .500 (68-70) for the first time since May 14.

They won it in the 10th inning after another promising Dodger, shortstop Dee Gordon, led off with a double. Anyway, his speed turned what looked like a single into a double. James Loney’s bunt sacrificed him to third, and after an intentional walk to Matt Kemp, Juan Rivera’s fly to center field was deep enough to bring home Gordon.

A final Dodger youngster, rookie Javy Guerra, pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th for his 15th save in 16 opportunities.

Eovaldi was ineffective in only one of his six starts, and ends his 2010 turn in the rotation with a 3.09 earned-run average. Saturday he walked five and struck out five, but was supported by three double plays.

The Dodgers are scheduled to move him to the bullpen for the rest of the season, not wanting to put too many innings on his young arm.

The only run Eovaldi surrendered Saturday had nothing to do with his five walks, but a single swing by Dan Uggla.

Uggla, who homered in the series opener Friday, hit a solo shot Saturday in the second inning off Eovaldi.

That only evened the score, however, because the Dodgers’ unlikely new power source –- A.J. Ellis -– hit one in the top of the inning off Mike Minor. Ellis, who did not have a home run in first 169 at-bats in the majors, now has two in his last 10.

After Scott Elbert got one out, reliever Kenley Jansen came on to throw 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four. In his 42 2/3 innings this season, Jansen has struck out 70.

Hong-Chih Kuo, the day after throwing two innings, came on to throw two-thirds of an inning. Mike MacDougal (2-1) continued the strong bullpen performance, getting the final out in the ninth to earn the win.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers starter Nathan Eovaldi delivers a pitch during the first inning of the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday. Credit: John Amis / Associated Press

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