Braves Suffer First Extra-Inning Loss, Fall To Giants 9-4

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 18: Brandon Crawford #35 of the San Francisco Giants hits an 11th inning home run against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 18, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Mike Minor turned in one of the better games of his career, dueling with Ryan Vogelsong for six innings, but neither pitcher figured in the decision as the Braves suffered an ugly extra-inning loss at the hands of the Giants, losing 9-4 on Wednesday.

Starting in place of Chipper Jones, Juan Francisco belted a third-inning home run off Vogelsong for an early lead while Minor kept the Giants off the scoreboard. He pitched brilliantly, being perfect through four and didn't allow a hit until the fifth. In the top of the sixth, though, Melky Cabrera punished his old team, tying the game with a solo homer of his own and taunted the fans after doing so.

Minor struck out seven in six innings, allowing only three hits. He walked two, one intentional.

Francisco's homer was all the Braves could muster against Vogelsong in six innings; the Giants right-hander also struck out seven, allowing just four hits.

The score was still tied going to the ninth when Atlanta loaded the bases on a hit by pitch, an error and an intentional walk, but like they had done all night, Braves hitters couldn't chase home the winning run and the game went to extras.

In the 10th, Anthony Varvaro surrendered a one-out triple to Joaquin Arias, but then issued an intentional walk to set up a double play. Outfielder Justin Christian hit what appeared to be an easy groundout to Chipper Jones with the infield in. Instead, when Chipper tried to underhand the ball to Brian McCann, it sailed way over the catcher's head, allowing Arias to score. Melky hurt his old team again with a soft single to left for another run and a 3-1 lead in extra innings.

Atlanta, though, had some comeback left in them. Down to his team's final strike in the bottom of the 10th, Freddie Freeman lined a double to right off Santiago Casilla for Brian McCann and wouldn't you know it? McCann smacked a fastball over the head of Melky Cabrera for a game-tying home run, sending the game to the 11th.

That was the end of good feelings for the Braves, though. Chad Durbin relieved Varvaro with two on and nobody out when Giants infielder Brandon Crawford fouled a ball hard off his right knee. He had to stay in, however, because no other position players were left. But on Durbin's next pitch, Crawford blasted a three-run homer to suck the energy from the crowd. An error and an intentional walk later, Gregor Blanco put the game out of reach with a three-run bomb of his own.

Chipper Jones homered in the bottom of the 11th, but his team had no comeback this time, and the Braves suffer their first extra-inning loss of the year. The home run tied Chipper with George Brett for most RBI by a third baseman. McCann's homer was Atlanta's only hit in nine tries with runners in scoring position. The team left 10 on base.

(Author's note: I apologize for the late post. The Internet connection here died on me while writing the recap and didn't recover until this morning.)

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