By all accounts the bubonic plague was easier to eradicate that this Braves' losing streak. Everyone agreed that this Sunday night game was particularly tough to swallow. The team got a quality start from John Smoltz, and a big blast in the seventh inning from Jeff Francoeur to give them the lead. But it wasn't enough. Smoltz said he "approached [tonight's game] like a playoff game," and after the bullpen failed to hold the lead he described the Braves mood as the "quietest the clubhouse will ever be."
The damage was done by the Red Sox in the eighth inning when they scored six runs all with two outs. Macay McBride looked sharp in striking out Big Papi swinging and Manny looking, but that's when the two-out bullpen crap storm started. McBride lost the strike zone and walked the next two batters, then five straight hits and six runs later the Braves found themselves in a four run hole. That proved too big to dig out of as the Sox also added another insurance run in the ninth off of Ken Ray.
Believe it or not this was the third time this season the Braves have allowed six runs in an inning. McBride took responsibility for the Red Sox' rally, bluntly announcing "I didn't do my job." He knows that he "had Nixon on the ropes," and he fully believes that if you allow a batter to "walk with two outs, he's gonna score." He didn't appear to be too fazed in the clubhouse after the game, and he tried to stay positive adding, "you gotta learn from this kind of stuff."
The Braves tried to come back in the eighth, getting four hits and two runs off of Mike Timlin, but they once again ran into the untouchable Jonathan Papelbon, who came in and took charge getting the final four outs for his third save in as many nights.
The Red Sox were able to handle their former shortstop, Edgar Renteria, who went 1 for 10 during the series. Scott Thorman was not the answer, at least not tonight, as he went 0 for 4, but was robbed of a hit in the seventh on a diving catch by Trot Nixon. Thorman was actually the only lineup regular without a hit as the Braves out-hit the Red Sox 15 to 13, but left 11 men on base to the Red Sox seven.
Cox said that Smoltz's finger was bothering him after throwing too many split-finger fastballs. During the sixth inning when he walked the first three batters, Smoltz said he started "losing feeling a bit" in the finger which led to the bases on balls. Of the intentional passes he said that we "will not see that ever again." As to the outcome of the game, "it happens," said Smoltz. "[Everyone's] grinding, we just gotta find a break." Francoeur may have put it best when he said, "This one hurts."
An off day tomorrow, and then we send Jorge Sosa and his 1-9 record to the mound to try and end the skid against the Blue Jays.
Boston 10, Atlanta 7 at Turner Field
Boston Record: (39-28)
Atlanta Record: (30-40)
Winning pitcher - Rudy Seanez (2-0)
Losing pitcher - Macay McBride (1-1)
SV - Jonathan Papelbon (23)