The Atlanta Braves couldn't have played a more fundamentally unsound game Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Despite collecting 10 hits, the Braves lost a 4-1 ballgame and had four runners thrown out on the base paths.
The only Braves run came in the fifth inning off an Andrelton Simmons double play with runners on the corners. Otherwise, Atlanta hit 10 singles, including three in the fourth inning, but it was baserunning mistakes that killed their momentum nearly every time they started a rally.
Jason Heyward was caught stealing to end the first inning, and Freddie Freeman was picked off wandering too far off first in the second. Martin Prado was thrown out twice at third – the first on Heyward's single in the fourth and on Freeman's hit in the eighth to end that inning.
Had Prado not been thrown out in the eighth, Dan Uggla would have batted as the tying run with two runners on.
"Early in the game, I'm fine with it," Fredi Gonzalez said. "Trying to go first to third with one out, I'm OK with it. But the last one there, with Danny at the plate swinging it, tying run at the plate, that's not acceptable, almost. You don't want to get thrown out there at third base, especially with the way Danny's swinging it and the way he can leave the ballpark and tie the game."
Prado's fourth-inning out at third was also huge. Chipper Jones followed Heyward's hit with one of his own, which would have scored a run and shifted some momentum. Wily Peralta struck out Freeman after that hit to end the inning.
"We just gave them outs," Gonzalez said. "We had chances. … It's hard to win ballgames when you only score one run."
The four-run Brewers' seventh inning put the nail in the coffin for the Braves, who needed three pitchers and 10 batters while walking four and only giving up two hits. Jonny Venters gave up a lead-off single to Martin Maldonado and walked Jean Segura. Jeff Bianchi attempted a sacrifice bunt that was hit firmly to Venters, but Venters threw the ball into left field while trying to get the out at third.
Chad Durbin was unable to put out the fire when he walked Jonathan Lucroy and gave up a two-run double to Norichika Aoki before Carlos Gomez's sacrifice fly capped the scoring. Durbin would still intentionally walk Ryan Braun, get Aramis Ramirez to ground out and walk Rickie Weeks before Christhian Martinez came in for the final out.
"It's my job to come in and keep it where it is, and I didn't do that," Venters said. "This loss is on my back. I didn't do my job, and I let my team down."
Mike Minor and his starting effort were about the only thing that went even halfway right for the Braves, even though his control was not up to par. He threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings but also needed a career-high 115 pitches to do it. Minor walked two, gave up two hits and struck out eight while getting into many three-ball counts.
"Somebody said I threw 50 pitches after two innings. That was just because of not throwing too many strikes and a lot of foul balls," Minor said. "I just couldn't pound the zone like I wanted to."
The Braves' Wild Card lead over the St. Louis Cardinals shrank to five games with the loss, and they fell to 6 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East.
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