The Atlanta Braves dropped their second straight game Monday night. This time it was in the series opener with the San Diego Padres at Turner Field, where Padres starting pitcher Eric Stults kept the Braves offense off-balance in the 4-1 loss.
The Padres, meanwhile, used a little luck to manufacture three runs in six innings off Mike Minor.
Stults held the Braves hitless through the first 11 batters with a high 80s fastball and well placed changeup. The Braves did not draw a walk for just the sixth time this season, coaxed by balls just off the corner to abandon their usual patient approach at the plate.
"He got us out of our normal game plan of seeing pitches and work the count a little bit and go deep in the count," Fredi Gonzalez said. "He really, really was frustrating to hit off of."
The Braves managed only one run off Stults in his season-high 7 2/3 innings, when Martin Prado tripled home Michael Bourn in the eighth inning.
Braves lefties faired far worse to the tune of going 2-for-13 against Stults. With the wind blowing straight in from center field after a 25-minute rain delay, the Braves as a team were just 5-for-29 on balls in play. They flew out 10 times, including a 3-1 pitch to Chipper Jones with runners on the corners and two outs. He flew out to the warning track in center.
Jones, however, wasn't one to make excuses.
"I saw a lot of weak ground balls and weak fly balls, to be honest with you," Jones said. "Everybody came back saying the same thing, 'Just missed it.' At some point, how about somebody not missing it, you know?"
Minor had the polar opposite of pitching luck over his six hits. Only two of the nine hits he gave up went for extra bases, but there were also two infield hits as well as a single with the infield playing in with a runner on third in the fifth inning.
"I feel like there was a lot of bad luck tonight and a mixture of good hitting on their part," Minor said. "I feel like I made some quality pitches and just didn't have a good outcome."
The loss drops the Braves to 19-25 against left-handed starters in contrast to 47-24 against righties. The Padres have another lefty in Clayton Richards waiting for the Braves Tuesday.
The loss, combined with the Washington Nationals blowout of the San Francisco Giants, dropped the Braves to 5.5 games behind first place in the NL East.
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