LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers finally have a little swagger, not to mention enough high-end talent to compete.
Two new arrivals -- Zack Greinke's stuff and Yasiel Puig's electricity -- propelled the Dodgers to a 5-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night. In the eighth inning, when Puig sent an opposite-field shot sailing over the right-field fence for a grand slam, Dodger Stadium seemed as alive as it had all season.
Puig's home run was his third in just his fourth major league game, but Greinke's relative dominance will be greeted at least as warmly by the Dodgers, who must have been wondering whether their wildly expensive new pitcher had come back too soon from a broken collarbone.
Greinke (3-1) pitched well for five innings in his return from the injury, but in his previous three starts he had an 8.77 ERA and just six strikeouts combined. Thursday, Greinke held a powerful lineup to no runs and only four hits, striking out seven in seven innings.
The Dodgers' middle infielders, good friends Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker, used a little trickery to get a key out in the eighth inning to set up that dramatic eighth. They deked Jordan Schafer into sliding headfirst into second base on Andrelton Simmons' fly ball to center and, after Schafer scrambled to get back to first, the umpires ruled that he had failed to retouch second base on his way back, upholding the Dodgers' appeal.
Greinke had already crossed the 100-pitch mark when he got himself in a dangerous jam in the seventh. Back-to-back hits from Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann gave Atlanta runners on first and third with nobody out. Manager Don Mattingly -- probably in part because of his leaky bullpen -- stuck with Greinke, who rewarded his faith. Greinke struck out Dan Uggla, got Ramiro Pena to line to left (Scott Van Slyke making a brilliant throw home to keep Freeman at third) and B.J. Upton to fly to right.
The Dodgers ran into a crafty veteran pitcher trying to pitch his way out of a slump, Tim Hudson, and didn't get much traction. Their only run through the first seven innings came on Schumaker's RBI groundout to second in the second inning.