ATLANTA -- Still sour over their ejection-marred loss in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, the Dodgers were dealt a walk-off loss Friday night to another playoff contender that was equally disturbing.
They let Chris Capuano's 12th win get away and wasted Andre Ethier's first homer in a month with erratic relief and sporadic offense, Juan Francisco's two-out, pinch-single in the bottom of the 11th inning giving the Braves a 4-3 win over the Dodgers in the series opener at Turner Field.
Capuano took a three-hitter and a two-run lead into the eighth inning, only for Ronald Belisario to allow two inherited runners to score as the Braves tied the game. In the 11th, Brandon League allowed a pair of two-out singles, then Francisco dealt the walk-off blow on a bouncing single to left off Jamey Wright.
The Dodgers slipped into second place in the National League West, a half-game behind the victorious Giants.
"That was a really frustrating game," said manager Don Mattingly. "There were so many different things to think of."
Mattingly explained why he made the decisions that even he now seemed to doubt. He said he thought about starting the bottom of the eighth inning with Belisario, but let Capuano do it because he had not allowed a clean hit since the third inning.
"I thought about starting with Belly, but Cappy was so good, it's like I'm kicking myself for that," said Mattingly.
Paul Janish opened the inning with a flare single, Reed Johnson followed with a line single and Michael Bourn bunted them to second and third. Belisario came on to retire Martin Prado on a run-scoring groundout.
"When we got to Bourn, I felt as good about Belly as anybody," Mattingly said.
Against left-handed-hitting Jason Heyward, Mattingly did not bring in left-handed reliever Randy Choate, and Heyward tied the game with a single off Belisario.
"We get there and look at the eighth inning, he [Belisario] is the guy for that spot," said Mattingly.
As it turned out, Choate in the 10th inning would strike out the right-handed-hitting Tyler Pastornicky but allow a single to the left-handed-hitting Bourn.
League relieved Choate in the 10th. After Bourn stole second and advanced to third on catcher Matt Treanor's throwing error, League escaped the jam with a tightrope act and kept the game alive.
Mattingly said he could have gone to Javy Guerra or Shawn Tolleson but let League come back for the 11th. He retired the first two batters in the inning, then hit the wall and allowed singles to former Dodger David Ross and Janish.
"Against [Freddie] Freeman and [Dan] Uggla, I felt great," said League, who has struggled with his mechanics and allowed six runs in five innings since he arrived in a Trade Deadline deal.
"Against Ross, my sinker went from where it needed to be to being flat. I've worked every day with the pitching coach to try to get it consistent with every pitch, but got away from myself with Ross and ground balls turned into line-drive hits.
"Losses are difficult, but it hurt a little more when you have a lead, especially with what happened yesterday, a win would have been great."
As it was for the Braves.
"The biggest thing is to win games like that because they are so emotionally involved," said Janish, whose relay throw following Hanley Ramirez's fourth-inning double to left fielder Prado erased Andre Ethier at the plate trying to score from first.
"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."
Until the eighth, the only run Capuano allowed was Chipper Jones' 13th homer on the first pitch of the bottom of the second inning. Jones, who homered twice Thursday, has 467 in his career. Capuano said he still felt strong in the eighth.
"I was still making pitches, but I can second-guess my pitch selection," Capuano said. "I was putting the ball where I wanted to that inning. I was executing my pitches and they just found a way."
Ethier gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, cashing in Mark Ellis' double past Jones. It snapped a homer drought of 116 at-bats and was his 12th of the year. He came into the game 3-for-6 with a home run and five RBIs lifetime against Braves starter Tommy Hanson, who was activated for this start after being on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
"We pitched well enough and defensed well enough but didn't do enough offensively and we lost a game we could have won," Ethier said.
The Dodgers added a run and chased Hanson with a pair of seventh-inning doubles, Cruz leading off with one and Victorino doubling him home when his opposite-field fly got over Prado, who was playing shallow. Victorino also ended the inning when he was caught trying to steal third base.
Mattingly also second-guessed his decision in the top of the 11th inning to pinch-hit Juan Rivera against lefty Jonny Venters instead of asking James Loney to bunt after Ramirez's leadoff single. Rivera grounded into a double play.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.