When you can't capitalize on run-scoring opportunities when you need to, it often comes back against you in a big way.
Brandon Beachy was looking for some luck against the Phillies on Friday the 13th, but early signs indicated this would not be his night. With one out in the first, the Phillies put together five straight hits, one of them a three-run homer from Ryan Howard deep to center. The Phillies batted around in the opening inning, forcing Beachy to throw 40 pitches.
Beachy had a much easier second inning, but warming up for the third inning, he suffered a strained left oblique muscle and was forced from the game. Cristhian Martinez entered for his usual long relief and promptly struck out the side. He continued his good work into the fourth, retiring the side in order. In fact, Martinez delivered four perfect innings, striking out four.
Hamels, after the first inning, kept the Braves at bay. He retired the side in order in the second and Prado was caught stealing after leading off the third with his second single of the game, allowing Hamels another scoreless frame. His easiest inning was in the fourth, retiring the side on six pitches.
The Braves were able to tie the game in the fifth in the most improbable way. Alex Gonzalez led off with a single and Joe Mather followed with a double to left. Cristhian Martinez was left in to hit, and he didn't disappoint. On the first pitch he saw, he lined a double just inside the third base line to score the tying runs. Both the hit and RBI were the first of his major-league career. The Braves had a chance to score more, loading the bases with one out, but Brian McCann hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Braves were finally able to take the lead in the sixth. Gonzalez singled with two outs and Mather followed with his second double of the game. Following a mound conference, Hamels' first offering to Diory Hernandez escaped Carlos Ruiz, allowing Gonzalez to score the go-ahead run.
As much as Martinez deserved the win, all of that went up in smoke in the seventh. Jimmy Rollins doubled with two outs off Cory Gearrin and Eric O'Flaherty was brought in to pitch in another tight spot. On an 0-2 pitch, Shane Victorino took a pitch easily in the strike zone, but amazingly, was not called a strike. When the hitter gets a second chance, he usually comes through soon thereafter and Victorino did, smacking a run-scoring single to center to re-tie the game.
The Braves passed another golden opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Prado led off the inning with a double, his third hit of the game. Following another McLouth sacrifice, Chipper and McCann both walked to load the bases. That's as far as they got, though, as the Braves failed to capitalize with a pair of strikeouts.
As is often the case, when a team fails to come through with runners on base, the other team usually does. That's exactly what happened in the eighth. Ryan Howard led off the inning with a double and scored on Raul Ibanez's one-out single.
The Braves put runners at second in the eighth and ninth innings, but they were left stranded. All told, the offense was 2 for 13 with RISP. Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman carried much of that; a combined 0 for 9 with six strikeouts.
This was yet another frustrating loss, but just suck it up and play again tomorrow.
Blanton vs. Jurrjens Saturday.