Braves can't solve road woes in San Diego

Braves can't solve road woes in San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- When Cameron Maybin hit a walk-off homer to conclude Sunday afternoon's win over the D-backs, there might have been some hope that the resulting momentum would help the Braves halt their recent road woes. But that optimistic thought might have quickly faded when it was realized that the next three days would be spent at Petco Park.

Nor has it helped that two of the three rookie pitchers currently in Atlanta's rotation have taken the mound over the past two days. Williams Perez's second-inning struggles proved decisive on Monday night, and Matt Wisler's early-inning struggles influenced Tuesday night's 9-0 loss to the Padres. As a result, the Braves have now lost 17 of their past 19 road games.

"We have a young team obviously, especially with the pitching staff," Braves veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I don't know what the numbers say, but I'd think they probably pitch better at home than they have on the road. It's a comfort factor or a routine. I don't know what it is, but we're working with these guys. They're trying, and they'll get better."

This miserable 19-game road stretch began July 8, when Luis Avilan could not preserve an eighth-inning lead in Milwaukee. Within this same span, the Braves have gone 9-7 at Turner Field. There is some validity to Pierzynski's theory that the road woes have been influenced by the inexperience of a rotation that does not currently include a member who has turned 25 years old. But the growing pains endured by young pitchers are not necessarily bound by specific location.

A look at the road ERA produced by the four Braves pitchers who have made at least three starts outside of Atlanta going back to July 8: Wisler (4.88), Shelby Miller (4.91), Julio Teheran (5.00) and Perez (7.23). Now a look at the home ERA of the pitchers who have made at least three home starts during this same span: Miller (2.16), Teheran (3.33), Wisler (7.15) and Mike Foltynewicz (7.71).

After Wisler lasted just five innings while facing his former organization on Tuesday for the first time since being traded to the Braves on April 5, Melvin Upton Jr. highlighted a five-run sixth inning with the first of the two home runs he would hit against his former employer.

The Braves gained Wisler because of the opportunity to rid themselves of Upton Jr.'s contract. Thus, the fact that Upton Jr. fueled this onslaught with his first two-homer game in more than two years simply strengthened the belief that Petco Park truly has become Atlanta's house of horrors.

The Braves have now lost each of the past nine games they have played in San Diego, dating back to 2012. They hit into two 5-2-3 double plays while being swept at Petco last year and squandered yet another prime scoring opportunity Tuesday night after loading the bases before James Shields recorded his first out in the fourth inning.

"When I was with the White Sox, we couldn't win a game in Oakland for forever, and Toronto, we went like three years without winning a game," Pierzynski said. "Sometimes, it just works like that, and sometimes, you just don't match up."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.