For the second straight day the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies were locked in a pitchers duel until the very end, but this time it was A.J. Burnett along with Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon who outlasted the 23-year old southpaw Alex Wood for the 1-0 victory to wrap up the series at Citizens Bank Park.
The former UGA standout was very close to following Julio Teheran's shutout performance the night before, but let up an RBI-single to leadoff hitter Ben Revere that scored Domonic Brown for the only run of the ball game. Revere was one of the few to have success at the plate for either side. The lefty-on-lefty matchup didn't seem to phase him, as he finished 3-for-4 while only seeing nine pitches at the plate.
Wood (2-2, 1.67 ERA) was accredited with the loss despite pitching a complete game while striking out seven and even induced three ground-ball double plays. He could just as easily have won all four of his starts this season especially when considering he has yet to give up more than two runs in a start. However, in his two losses he has only been given one run of support by his offense. It was also encouraging to see his ground ball to fly out ratio (12:3) and this outing marked the first of his season in which he did not give up a solo home run. His skipper showed enough confidence in the second year pitcher to let him go all the way and he has now seemingly solidified a spot in the rotation and may force Gavin Floyd to the pen once he returns late this month or early May.
Wood's only walk of the game was a costly one to pinch-hitter Ryan Howard that brought up Revere who plated the go-ahead run with two outs in eighth. His control has always been thought to be one of his best strengths and for most of the game it proved to be true, throwing 72 of his 103 pitches over for strikes. He is one of four starters for his team that has a WHIP of 1.11 or lower so far this season.
The Braves offense could only muster four hits and only managed to get a runner to second on two occasions in the game when B.J. Upton's single moved Jason Heyward to third base in the top of the third and Gerald Laird doubled to start the eighth inning. Hitting with runners in scoring position this year has been an ongoing problem for the team. Heyward finished the game 0-for-4 at the plate and is in the midst of a 2-for-27 slump and has one of the lowest batting averages of any everyday starter in baseball at .136. It just wasn't a good day at the plate for Atlanta, especially considering Andrelton Simmons struck out for his first time this season in his 52nd plate appearance of the season. Still the sure-handed shortstop continues to impress at the plate and is third on the team in hits so far.
By the way, it also doesn't help when your hottest hitter, Evan Gattis (.378 AVG., 4 HR), is on the bench. Justifiably so, since Gonzalez wants to give him every fourth game off. He is expected to start all three games this weekend.
The loss for the Braves moves their record to 10-5 on the season, but they have now won four of their first five series to start the season and remain atop the division.
They will now travel to New York to take on the Mets (8-7) in a three game series at Citi Field. Aaron Harang (2-1, 0.96 ERA) will get the start in game one and go up against LHP Jonathan Niese on Friday night.