Oh, hey, a loss featuring a bullpen blowup that transformed a lead into a deficit. We haven’t had one of those in a while. Jesse Biddle allowed a two-run, go-ahead double to Mike Moustakas to sink the Braves in the eighth, and Josh Hader slammed the door on the Atlanta bats by retiring all six batters he faced to even the series.
Before Biddle’s blowup, Julio Teheran held the Brewers relatively in check for six innings, allowing just one run on two walks and two hits, while striking out six. The run scored in the first, as Teheran walked Christian Yelich to begin the game. Yelich was replaced at first by Lorenzo Cain after Cain lashed the first pitch he saw to Ozzie Albies. The ball ate Albies up but did not kick far away, leading to a force at second. Cain then stole a bag, and after a Moustakas pop-up, scored on Ryan Braun’s first-pitch single up the middle.
It took the Braves essentially no time at all to even the score, as Ronald Acuña Jr. greeted Wade Miley with a line drive homer that went deep into the left field corner. Miley then allowed a single to Albies and walked Freddie Freeman, but got Nick Markakis to pop out before Johan Camargo hit into a first-pitch, inning-ending 5-3 double play.
Teheran endured a bit of a scare in the third, as he allowed a leadoff single to Miley, and then issued a two-out walk to Moustakas before hitting Braun with a pitch to load the bags. Thankfully, Travis Shaw hit a hard liner right to Freeman at first to end the inning with the game still tied. The Braves then took their first and only lead of the game by succeeding where Shaw failed: Freeman led off the fourth with a double that Eric Thames failed to field at first, and then scored as Nick Markakis hit another rope that ricocheted off Thames’ outstretched glove and trickled into right field, allowing Freeman to beat Shaw’s throw home from the outfield grass.
That was pretty much all the excitement in the middle innings; Brad Brach relieved Teheran in the seventh and threw a scoreless frame. In the bottom of the seventh, Dansby Swanson collected a two-out hit thanks to an infield single, and took second as a wild pickoff throw from Jacob Barnes missed its target. Unfortunately, the Braves were not able to tack on because Braun made a heroic diving catch in left on Ender Inciarte’s line drive into the corner, keeping the score 2-1.
It was in that fateful eighth that things fell apart. Jesse Biddle elicited a weak bouncer from Yelich that forced Freeman to come in. Freeman’s flip to Biddle at the bag eluded the pitcher’s barehand stab at the ball, and Yelich reached safely (he would have been out, it appeared, had Biddle caught the ball). Cain then hit a single up the middle to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base, and Moustakas delivered them with an 0-1, end-of-the-bat bullet on a hanging slider. Biddle remained in the game to allow a single to Braun, and departed after a fielder’s choice to Swanson resulted in Moustakas being thrown out at the plate. Dan Winkler was then summoned from the bullpen and allowed another run as he backswiped a comebacker. Winkler then bore down and struck out the next two hitters to keep the game at 4-2.
Unfortunately, that didn’t matter. Josh Hader came on for the Brewers and mowed down the Braves over the remaining two innings. He struck out Acuña (swinging) on four pitches and then got Albies (looking) on five. Freeman bounced to first to end the eighth. After Luke Jackson hurled a scoreless ninth, Hader went right back to work: Nick Markakis lined out to short, Johan Camargo struck out swinging, and Charlie Culberson grounded out to third for the final play of the game.
With the Phillies currently leading over San Diego, the Braves’ most recent stay atop the division may prove to be shortlived. While the Braves have now lost the season series with the Brewers, they can at least improve to a reasonable 3-4 mark with a win in the finale tomorrow, as Sean Newcomb takes the hill for Atlanta.