By Mark Bowman and Jon Cooper
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- After facing the Braves' entire bullpen and the guy who had been scheduled to start on Saturday, the Brewers claimed a 3-2 victory courtesy of Jonathan Villar's go-ahead single in the 13th inning on Wednesday night at Turner Field.
Casey Kelly had been scheduled to start Saturday, but he ended up throwing the final four innings for the Braves, who have lost 19 of their first 21 home games. After the Brewers loaded the bases before the first out was recorded in the 13th inning, Villar delivered his game-winning single to left that scored Aaron Hill off Kelly, who had thrown 81 pitches over five innings on Sunday in Philadelphia.
The Braves burned through their 'pen after starter Mike Foltynewicz surrendered one run over 5 2/3 innings. The Brewers used six of their seven relievers after Junior Guerra escaped multiple threats over five scoreless innings. Milwaukee has won each of the five games Guerra has started this season.
"He put zeros on the board," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's good when a guy can pitch like that. I don't think he had his best night. I just thought it was time to go to our [bullpen]."
Braves infielder Gordon Beckham's first career pinch-hit homer -- a two-run shot in the sixth inning off Chris Capuano -- served as the potential game winner until the Brewers manufactured a run in the eighth inning. Atlanta used six relievers to record the 10 outs that separated Foltynewicz's exit and the end of the ninth inning.
"I don't particularly like going out there, but it was just kind of the way things were stacking up," Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. "You'd rather not, but it was like we were going to try to win this in nine, especially after Gordo hit the homer."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bullpen instability: The Braves used all seven of their relievers, including three in the eighth inning. Newly-appointed setup man Bud Norris exited after surrendering a Jonathan Lucroy single and Chris Carter double with one out in the eighth. The Braves then opted not to play their infield in and paid the price when Kirk Nieuwenhuis greeted Ian Krol with his game-tying RBI groundout. More >
"I wasn't going to bring the infield in because I didn't want to shorten the field and let them get the go-ahead run," Snitker said. "We've still got at-bats there."
No RISP-ect: Guerra put runners on, but bore down in at-bats with runners in scoring position. He held the Braves hitless in nine such at-bats in his five innings, including retiring Atlanta's Nos. 3 and 4 hitters -- Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis in the first, third and fifth innings with runners on first and second base. Opponents had gone 7-for-13 against Guerra with runners in scoring position in his four previous starts.
"It's about mixing and not being too predictable because they're dangerous hitters," catcher Lucroy said. "That's really all it's about, not being predictable and mixing and just location."
High-octane start: Foltynewicz touched 100 mph with his first pitch to Braun in the third inning and clocked 97 mph or above with 37 of the fastballs he threw during his 104-pitch outing. But the lone run he surrendered came after he opened the fifth by getting ahead with a 0-2 count before walking Broxton, who had struck out in 14 of his previous 21 career at-bats. Broxton reached third base courtesy of a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch before scoring on Villar's sacrifice fly.
"I think I might have just got a little excited," Foltynewicz said. "I got [Broxton] 0-2 and tried to blow it by him or make the slider even more nasty. I know that run was pushed across on a wild pitch. If we don't do that, it might have been a different story."
Bouncing back at crunch time: Lucroy, Carter and Nieuwenhuis had been a combined 1-for-19 in the series with 11 strikeouts and one infield hit (by Carter) prior to the eighth inning. But down 2-1, the trio came through. Lucroy smacked a one-out single to center, Carter followed by bashing a double the opposite way off the wall in right to put runners on second and third, and Nieuwenhuis, who hadn't put a ball in play in five of his first six plate appearances in the two games, delivered an RBI grounder to second to knot the game. More >
"[Infielder] Chase d'Arnaud was the next pitcher if we had tied that game. He's got a loose arm. Shoot, he might go out and get them out for a while." -- Snitker
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his first-inning single, Ryan Braun reached base in his 27th consecutive game. It's the third-longest active streak in the Majors, behind Miami's Marcell Ozuna (32 games) and Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. (29).
Freeman has recorded one hit in his past 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position and he is hitting .135 (5-for-37) with RISP this season.
UPON FURTHER REVIEWS
The Brewers successfully challenged first-base umpire Tony Randazzo's ruling that Ender Inciarte reached safely with an infield single in the 12th inning. The call was overturned following a review.
But Milwaukee was unsuccessful with the challenge issued after Broxton was thrown out attempting to score on Villar's decisive single. Home-plate umpire Tom Hallion's call was ruled as stands after a review did not show conclusive evidence that Broxton crossed the plate ahead of A.J. Pierzynski's tag.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Milwaukee wraps up a six-game road trip and bids adieu to Turner Field on Thursday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Righty Wily Peralta (2-5, 6.96 ERA) starts the finale and will try to snap to his three-start winless streak, during which he's allowed 11 runs in 16 1/3 innings. But in two of those starts, he's allowed two and three runs, while receiving three total runs of support.
Braves: Right-hander Matt Wisler will start Thursday's series finale at 7:10 p.m. ET. Wisler has posted a 1.80 ERA and limited opponents to a .204 batting average over his past four starts.