Wasted rallies keep Braves reeling

Wasted rallies keep Braves reeling

Wasted rallies keep Braves reeling
ATLANTA -- There was not a bullpen meltdown or another significant lead squandered. But after Brian McCann delivered a much-needed spark, the Braves were reintroduced to that disappointing feeling that has followed them the past four days.

  Curtis Granderson extended that anguish with a two-run sixth-inning homer off Tim Hudson that proved decisive as the Yankees completed a three-game sweep with a 3-2 win over the Braves on Wednesday night.

  "We're not playing bad," McCann said. "We're just not getting the big hit. We're pitching great; we've been in every ballgame. We just didn't get the big hit when we needed it."

McCann's two-run fifth-inning home run off Hiroki Kuroda gave the Braves a short-lived lead that was erased when Granderson hit Hudson's fifth pitch of the sixth inning over the right-field wall for a two-run home run that extended Atlanta's woes.

Four days after notching a season-best sixth consecutive win, the Braves are mired in a four-game losing streak that has included more crushing losses than the eight-game losing streak that they snapped on May 29.

  • 142 wins
  • 110 wins

The Braves blew a four-run fifth-inning lead against the Blue Jays on Sunday and squandered the 4-0 lead they owned when they were just five outs away from beating the Yankees on Tuesday night.  With these demoralizing defeats fresh in their memory, the Braves found their offense unable to overcome the few costly mistakes Hudson made.

  "When you play good baseball and get beat, you can live with it," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "But when you've got leads in the middle innings and late innings -- and I'm not talking about one-run leads; I'm talking about four-run leads -- that's a little concerning. But I'll just chalk it up to being a little bit of a fluke and move on."

When the Braves put runners at the corners with one out in the eighth and appeared to be in position to get back on the right side of a comeback victory, Cody Eppley got Martin Prado to ground into an inning-ending double play.  Atlanta has batted .189 (7-for-37) with runners in scoring position during its losing streak. The club's two hits with runners in scoring position during this series finale came courtesy of Michael Bourn's infield single in the eighth inning and the puzzling bunt single rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons delivered to load the bases with one out in the second. With Hudson hitting behind Simmons, the Braves wanted the rookie to swing the bat in that situation.

  "It's an aggressive mistake, really," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We talked to him about it, and I don't think we'll see it again."

Coming off last week's shutout of the Marlins, which he completed while dealing with a sore left ankle, Hudson recorded eight strikeouts and scattered six hits over six innings.   After Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez teamed up to give the Yankees a run in the first inning, the veteran right-hander limited New York to just two hits over the next four innings.

But after Jeter opened the sixth with a single, Granderson followed by hitting a 1-1 fastball well out of the reach of Jason Heyward, who made a futile attempt to preserve his team's lead by scaling the right-field wall.  The home run was just the second Hudson has allowed this season.

"It's a little frustrating this series," Hudson said. "I thought we had some opportunities. They made some pitches and plays when they needed to, to keep us from scoring, getting the big inning and adding on runs. It's frustrating. That's about all I can say."

McCann's fifth-inning home run accounted for the only damage incurred by Kuroda, who managed to allow just two runs while surrendering nine hits over six innings. The Braves put seven runners on base against Kuroda through the first four innings, even coming up empty after loading the bases with one out in the second.

Heyward did not score despite producing doubles in the fourth and fifth innings. Then, after Boone Logan issued consecutive walks with one out in the seventh, Heyward quieted the threat with a weak comebacker to the mound.

"It seemed like every time Kuroda needed to make a pitch or get a strikeout, he got it," Jones said. "We just couldn't break through with the big hit to get the game tied. We got the big hit to take the lead and they came right back to hit one of Huddy's few mistakes tonight."

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