LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers starter Walker Buehler was pulled from his start with rib soreness, in another blow to an injury-depleted Los Angeles pitching staff.
Buehler was perfect through four innings against the Atlanta Braves and still cruising with one out in the sixth when manager Dave Roberts and trainer Nathan Lucero went to the mound. After a lengthy discussion, Buehler was pulled.
Buehler was hit in the ribs by a comebacker from Colorado's Trevor Story on May 21, and Friday was his third start since then. But a problem was evident to manager Dave Roberts when Buehler's velocity dropped.
"Seemed like he wasn't letting it go like he was earlier,'' Roberts said after the 7-3 win. "For me, that was a big red flag.''
"You look at the first five innings, there were 6s, 7s and 98s,'' Roberts said of Buehler. "The velocity was there. The stuff was really good. It was that sixth inning he kind of hit a wall.''
Buehler has been a bright spot during a rugged year for the Dodgers' rotation. Los Angeles is currently without Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dennis Santana, who was pulled shortly before a scheduled start Thursday.
Roberts had gone to the bullpen 15 times in the previous two games, but he hasn't lost his sense of humor. Asked about the plethora of injuries, Roberts said: "If you're a pitcher on this staff, heads up.''
It was a difficult thing to watch for the Dodgers pitching staff, but the bullpen came through, allowing a combined two runs over the final 3 2/3 innings to preserve Buehler's win.
"It makes my stomach sick, to be honest you,'' said Kenley Jansen, who pitched a scoreless ninth. "It was a crazy game. Thank God Venditte and [Adam Liberatore] picked it up. Me coming in to close it out, that was great.''