In Saturday's Civil Rights Game at Turner Field, no one expected such a strange outcome as the Atlanta Braves were downed by four Los Angeles Dodgers home runs – their only hits of the game – in the 6-2 loss.
Ben Sheets gave up a career high four homers as well as a season high six runs during his six innings. He had previously given up two home runs over his first 38 innings.
"It was a weird game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Four hits, four home runs and six runs and we left 11 stranded. I don't think I've ever seen that kind of box score really."
Though Sheets sat down the first four batters he faced, disaster struck over a span of four pitches when he gave up back-to-back-to-back home runs to Hanley Ramirez, James Loney and Luis Cruz. Sheets went on to retire the next 13 batters before walking two batters to set up a two-out, three-run homer by Ramirez.
"The solo homers I can deal with," Sheets said. "I can pitch around those. You don't see people go back-to-back-to-back too often. But the two walks with two outs in the sixth inning, it pisses me off to be nice about it."
The oddity is that other than the aforementioned homers and walks, Sheets was perfect. He was more efficient than Aaron Harang, who picked up the win even though only 58 of his 115 pitches were strikes.
The Braves, who went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, missed their best opportunity to jump on Harang in the bottom of the first inning after a walk to Michael Bourn and an RBI-double by Martin Prado with no outs. Harang walked two batters before striking out David Ross to end the bases loaded jam.
In another anomaly, all nine hits recorded by both teams went for extra bases. It was also the sixth time since 1921 that a Major League pitcher gave up four home runs on four hits while pitching six innings.
Sheets seems to have lost the touch that was evident in his first three starts, which he won. He has now lost three of his last four starts and has given up at least five runs in his last two starts.
"He's going to throw strikes," Gonzalez said. "He's not going to shy away from the bat. Those pitches, he just left them over the plate a little bit. You get those out of the box score and the three-run homer he allowed in the sixth and that's a pretty good ballgame that he pitched."
The Braves weren't able to capitalize on a loss by the Washington Nationals and remain four games back in the NL East.
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