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Wood shuts down former team, nabs series win

Left-hander throws 5 2/3 scoreless; Puig homers, drives in three in return from DL
MLB.com @kengurnick

ATLANTA -- One of six current Dodgers starting pitchers will soon be headed to the bullpen and Alex Wood did his best to pitch his way out of that conversation entirely with a one-hit shutout for 5 2/3 innings against his old team, the Atlanta Braves, in the Dodgers' 5-1 win on Saturday night.

Yasiel Puig came off the disabled list with a two-run homer and sacrifice fly for the Dodgers, who are 16-7 in July.

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ATLANTA -- One of six current Dodgers starting pitchers will soon be headed to the bullpen and Alex Wood did his best to pitch his way out of that conversation entirely with a one-hit shutout for 5 2/3 innings against his old team, the Atlanta Braves, in the Dodgers' 5-1 win on Saturday night.

Yasiel Puig came off the disabled list with a two-run homer and sacrifice fly for the Dodgers, who are 16-7 in July.

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Wood (7-5) struck out five and walked four, including Nick Markakis with two outs in the sixth after shifted shortstop Chris Taylor booted a Freddie Freeman grounder. With next batter Tyler Flowers 7-for-12 against Wood with two walks in this game, manager Dave Roberts brought in JT Chargois and Wood left screaming into his glove. Chargois struck out Flowers looking to end the threat.

"I was mad that I walked Markakis," said Wood. "The walk drove me crazy and, obviously, I want to stay in the game throwing a one-hitter. That was part of it, too. But you look up, see it's Flowers in a 3-0 game, and you understand it."

Roberts called the starting pitching during the July surge "the lifeline of our club." Starts by Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw and Wood have allowed Roberts to reset the bullpen after a taxing series in Philadelphia.

"We go as they go," Roberts said of the starters. "With the competition, internally, they feed off each other, and we've got another good one tomorrow [Ross Stripling]."

Video: LAD@ATL: Roberts, Puig, Wood discuss Dodgers' win

Wood didn't win a game this year until May 20, but he hasn't lost one since June 9 (against the Braves). That makes for a six-game win streak over seven starts, allowing no more than three runs in any of them. He's lowered his ERA from 4.48 to 3.68.

"We talked about it before the break that, as a whole, we hadn't hit our best stride," said Wood. "I really feel like it's coming together for the staff as we head down the stretch."

The Dodgers' offense scratched out only one run against Braves starter and Santa Monica native Max Fried, who went to high school in Studio City and patterned himself after Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. The only run he allowed in five innings was set up by Enrique Hernandez's leadoff single in the second inning and driven in by Puig's sac fly on the first pitch he saw off the disabled list.

Puig, whose return meant optioning top prospect Alex Verdugo back to Triple-A, made the move pay off with his Statcast-estimated 419-foot, two-run homer off Luke Jackson with two out in the sixth inning after Cody Bellinger's one-out walk.

Video: LAD@ATL: Puig hits two-run HR in return from DL

Johan Camargo ended a 10-pitch at-bat against Caleb Ferguson with a home run leading off the seventh inning to spoil the Dodgers' shutout. Taylor and Manny Machado singled in ninth-inning runs.

Roberts said he's now comfortable using the rookie Ferguson in higher leverage situations.

"The game tells you how you respond and Caleb has passed every test we've given to him," said Roberts. "Started out as a length guy in non-leverage, then a length guy in some leverage and now to see him more frequently in shorter spurts, I can see that. Today was another good test that he passed. I like his ability to throw strikes -- [he] attacks, misses bats and I like his pulse."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
He faced only one batter, but Chargois' strikeout of Flowers with two out and two on in the bottom of the sixth inning was the biggest out of the game for the Dodgers, who had extended the lead to 3-0 in the top of the inning on Puig's home run. Since returning from a Minor League assignment on July 1, Chargois has allowed one run on two hits in 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.

SOUND SMART
Machado reached base four times with two hits and two walks, extending his career-best streak for reaching base to 26 games, second-longest active in MLB to Houston's Alex Bregman's 29 games.

Video: LAD@ATL: Machado plates Barnes with an RBI single

HE SAID IT
"I take it personally when people question our professionalism. I'll put the way we play the game and the way we prepare against anybody's. I've got to hear the audio, but that sets me off a little bit." -- Roberts, responding to Braves broadcasters calling his players unprofessional for their batting practice attire

UP NEXT
In the Sunday trip finale, Stripling opposes Sean Newcomb and the Braves with a 10:35 a.m. PT start. After allowing back-to-back homers in the All-Star Game, Stripling was taken deep by the Phillies three times and didn't get out of the fifth inning in his last start, raising concerns of fatigue.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Alex Wood