Braves cough up big lead, lose 8-6 to Red Sox

Scott Cunningham

The Braves took a big early lead, but coughed it up as the game continued

It looked like everything was turning up Braves to start the game, with Clay Buchholz looking incredibly bad in the early goings and Ervin Santana looking very sharp. The Braves took a 6-1 lead after Buchholz battled command issues throughout the game, as he issued eight walks in just three innings pitched.

The top of the fifth is when the game turned. Ervin Santana allowed five runs in the inning, three of which came from a David Ortiz home run to centerfield. In the losing effort, Santana has seen his ERA rise all the way to 4.06, which is hard to believe after he got off to such a great start.

A rain delay started after the sixth inning and Fredi Gonzalez brought out Ian Thomas in the top of the seventh, to face Jackie Bradley, a pinch hitter, and Brock Holt. After getting the first two batters, he failed to cover first base appropriately on a ground ball to Freeman and that is where things unraveled.

It seemed like that would have been an appropriate time to pull Thomas, as he was set to face two righties and then David Ortiz. He walked both Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia before allowing a sacrifice fly to Ortiz. A.J. Pierzynski followed the sac fly with an RBI single up the middle to put the Red Sox ahead 8-6.

The bullpen management was questionable today, as Thomas likely should have been taken out well before he was. Additionally, Fredi brought in Luis Avilan to face Jonny Gomes, and even though he got Gomes out that is certainly not a favorable matchup for the Braves. He then brought in David Carpenter in the eighth inning. Carpenter probably would have been a better option than Thomas at the top of the seventh and he most certainly was a better option against Bogaerts and Pedroia.

Tomorrow Aaron Harang takes the hill against Jon Lester in the finale of the Braves portion of the home-and-home series against Boston.

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