The Atlanta Braves continued their road woes on Wednesday, finishing up their road trip with walk-off loss to the Kansas City Royals. Alex Gordon provided the game-winning hit off Alex Wood in the 4-3 loss at Kauffman Stadium.
Of course, the Braves wouldn't have been in that situation if they hadn't wasted scoring opportunities all game, but the loss means the Braves have lost 23 of their last 36 road games.
"We definitely got to step it up on the road, because you're not going to win in the playoffs if you can't win games on the road," Gerald Laird said on braves.com. "We're too good of a team to play like we do on the road. We give ourselves opportunities. But it seems like we've just got to bring a little more energy."
Atlanta rallied from being down 3-0 in the seventh inning. With two on and two outs, Reed Johnson pinch-hit for Jordan Schafer and drove in the first Braves run of the game off Royals starter Luis Mendoza. After Jason Heyward walked to load the bases, Justin Upton hit a two-run single to tie the game, but Heyward was thrown out at third.
Luis Avilan and Jordan Walden held things down through the ninth inning, but the rookie Wood was called on in the 10th to face the lefties in the lineup in a high-pressure situation. David Lough started the inning with a single and moved to second on Miguel Tejada's sacrifice bunt. He then came around to score on Gordon's knock to win the game.
Gordon had actually torched the Braves all game long, included a lead-off homer in the first inning off Mike Minor. Salvador Perez also singled home Billy Butler in that frame, and Butler would have been out on a strong throw from Schafer had Laird been able to handle it.
"It just went right under my glove or between my legs," Laird said. "It's a play I've made a bunch of times. It's a play I've made tons of times. It's just that play that I've made tons of times and just that one time you want to make it, it just doesn't go your way."
Laird was also responsible for killing the Braves' threat in the 10th inning. With righty reliever Aaron Crow in the game, Fredi Gonzalez opted to leave in Laird instead of pinch-hitting with Brian McCann, noting Laird was 6-for-his-last-10 with runners in scoring position. Instead, with two on and one out, Laird hit into an inning-ending double play.
"Gerald is going to give you a great at-bat," Gonzalez said. "He's shown you that since he's been here right from the very beginning. You're going to have to pinch hit for a guy who is hot and has been swinging it for a guy who has been sitting around for three hours. I felt really, really good about that situation with Gerald at the plate."
In fairness, Laird hit a double in the second inning to put runners on second and third with no outs, and the Braves ended up leaving the bases loaded. They currently ranked 29th in the Major Leagues with a .225 average with runners in scoring position.
Minor struggled early by giving up all three runs and seven of nine hits in the first three innings. He would settle to complete six innings with four strikeouts.
- Atlanta Braves at Kansas City Royals: Gameday 79
- Atlanta Braves at Kansas City Royals: Gameday 78
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