ATLANTA -- As Chris Capuano was nearing the completion of what would have been another stellar outing against the Braves, Jason Heyward altered his fortunes against the Dodgers and gave the Braves a chance to complete yet another rousing comeback victory.
Long after Heyward produced a game-tying, eighth-inning single at Turner Field on Friday night, Juan Francisco capped a thrilling 4-3, 11-inning win over the Dodgers with a two-out, pinch-hit single that allowed the Braves to stage their fourth walk-off celebration of the season.
"The biggest thing is to win games like that because they are so emotionally involved," Braves shortstop Paul Janish said. "It's really a kick in the pants if you don't find a way to win them. Good teams tend to find a way to win those games. So we were fortunate to be able to do that tonight."
After recording just three hits through the first seven innings against Capuano, the Braves concluded this thrilling victory with David Ross, Janish and Francisco combining to record three consecutive two-out singles.
Once Francisco shot the third consecutive curveball thrown by Jamey Wright through the left side of the infield, he ran through the first-base bag and made his way toward second base as he ran away from his celebratory teammates. But he was unable to escape Martin Prado, who continued his walk-off tradition of dousing the game's hero with a mixture of dirt and water.
"Juany's been getting some playing time and he's swinging the bat," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "[Heck] of an at-bat there."
On the way to producing his first three-hit game in more than a year, Janish produced the eighth-inning leadoff single that put Heyward in position to tie the game. The slick-fielding shortstop also made a strong relay throw that prevented a run in the fourth inning and turned a key double play on a Juan Rivera grounder in the top of the 11th inning.
With this late-inning rally, the Braves remained four games behind the first-place Nationals in the National League East. They continue to lead the Wild Card race and are 5 1/2 games in front of the Dodgers, who own the best record among the NL teams that would not currently secure a playoff berth.
"We grind at-bats," Ross said. "Nobody gives away at-bats. You're going to have to get us out, especially late in the game, with some good pitches and we're going to fight you tooth and nail."
Chipper Jones' second-inning home run accounted for the only run the Braves produced against Capuano through the first seven innings. But the tone of the evening changed when Janish and Reed Johnson started the bottom of the eighth with consecutive singles against Capuano.
Michael Bourn's sacrifice bunt chased Capuano and signaled the entrance of Ronald Belisario, who promptly allowed Martin Prado to score Janish with an RBI groundout. Heyward followed with a game-tying single to left-center field. He entered that clutch situation with just six hits in 63 career at-bats against the Dodgers.
"You just want to be patient with yourself and don't overthink it," Heyward said. "Just relax and take what you can with each situation."
Capuano had posted a 1.53 ERA in his previous seven starts against the Braves and it appeared he was in position to extend that mastery. The only time a Braves player advanced as far as second base through the first seven innings came when Jones was jogging around the bases with his third home run trot in a span of five at-bats. The 40-year-old third baseman homered twice in Thursday's win over the Padres.
"They've really put together a great year doing the little things," Capuano said of the Braves.
Braves starter Tommy Hanson escaped a couple of potentially damaging situations in the fourth and fifth innings. But his good fortune expired in the sixth inning when he hung a slider that Andre Ethier deposited over the right-field wall for a two-run home run.
Ethier's first-pitch home run tarnished the return of Hanson, who was making his first start since being placed on the disabled list on July 31 with a lower back strain. The rest seemed to aid some of the command issues he had battled while issuing 14 walks in three starts he had made since the All-Star break.
"My fastball command felt really good," said Hanson, who allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings. "I kind of struggled with my curveball a little bit and then my slider was good. Just the one to Ethier is the one I would take back, but you're always going to have those in games. I felt, overall, I had good command."
Hanson kept the Dodgers hitless until the fourth inning, when he issued a two-out walk to Ethier and then allowed Hanley Ramirez to hit a double to the left-center-field gap. Prado stopped the ball short of the warning track and quickly began a relay that concluded with Janish making a strong throw that denied Ethier's attempt to score from first base.
While Prado aided Hanson with a strong throw he made after the Dodgers opened the fifth inning with consecutive singles, the bad route he took on Shane Victorino's two-out, seventh-inning single allowed the Dodgers to gain a 3-1 lead.
"This is a big series and the Dodgers have a really good team," Hanson said. "To win the first one and the way we did is huge."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.