Braves 11, Dodgers 10

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Atlanta Braves began their quest for a 15th straight division championship by building a quick seven-run lead, then hanging on as Tim Hudson and several relievers struggled.

Adam LaRoche and Andruw Jones hit three-run homers off Derek Lowe, and the Braves spoiled manager Grady Little’s debut by beating the Dodgers 11-10 Monday before a disappointed turnout of 56,000 – the largest single-game regular-season crowd in Dodger Stadium history.

Hudson, making his fourth opening-day start, entered with an 87-4 record in 112 outings when he’s received at least four runs of support. The Braves staked Hudson to a 4-0 lead before he threw a pitch and led 8-1 before the 30-year-old right-hander was chased in the fifth.

Oscar Villarreal worked 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the victory. Chris Reitsma, the seventh Atlanta pitcher, survived a two-run ninth for the save.

Jose Cruz Jr. had four hits to equal a career high, Rafael Furcal had three hits and scored three runs and Jeff Kent had four RBIs.

Marcus Giles singled to start the game, and one out later, Chipper Jones hit what appeared to be a double-play grounder to second. But Kent booted the ball for an error, Andruw Jones followed with an RBI single, and LaRoche hit a 1-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer.

The season was 5 minutes old, and the fans were already booing the new-look Dodgers, who made numerous changes following their second-worst season since moving from Brooklyn in 1958.

Kent hit an RBI single in the third, but the Braves scored another four in the fifth to take an 8-1 lead and knock out Lowe. Chipper Jones hit an RBI single and, after Little visited the mound, Andruw Jones hit Lowe’s first pitch into the left field bleachers for his three-run homer.

Furcal singled against his former team to begin the bottom of the inning, and came around on a single by Cruz and an infield hit by J.D. Drew. A two-run double by Kent chased Hudson, and Bill Mueller hit an RBI single off Lance Cormier later in the inning.

Edgar Renteria, playing his first game for the Braves, hit a two-out, two-run double off Yhency Brazoban in the sixth, and Ryan Langerhans hit a solo homer off Franquelis Osoria in the eighth to make it 11-5.

Olmedo Saenz hit a two-run single off Blaine Boyer and Jason Repko added an RBI double off John Thomson in the bottom of the eighth before Reitsma struck out pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro with runners at second and third to end the inning.

The Dodgers scored twice off Reitsma in the ninth on RBI groundouts by Drew and Kent.

Lowe allowed nine hits and eight runs, seven earned, in five innings while Hudson gave up six hits and five runs in four-plus innings.

The Braves’ 14 straight division championships is a major league record, and they’ve won them all with John Schuerholz as general manager and Bobby Cox as manager. Atlanta moved from the NL West to the NL East in 1995, and is the only team to win that division since then.

Notes: Nomar Garciaparra’s debut with the Dodgers was put off because the converted first baseman injured a muscle in his right side during his first at-bat in Sunday’s exhibition finale against the Los Angeles Angels. … Heavy rain was expected Monday night and Tuesday, and that could cause a problem since this three-game series is the Braves’ only visit to Dodger Stadium this season. … Little said Garciaparra might be placed on the disabled list. “They will re-evaluate him tomorrow and we’ll go from there,” the manager said. The Dodgers already have one starting player, CF Kenny Lofton, on the DL. … The Braves entered the season with a 1,431-931 record since the start of the 1991 campaign – the best in baseball. … Kent was presented with the Silver Slugger award before the game as baseball’s best hitting second baseman last season. … Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers from 1977-96 who is now a team vice president, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

AP-ES-04-03-06 1934EDT

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