Braves fall as Kimbrel allows first homer of '12

Braves fall as Kimbrel allows first homer of '12

Braves fall as Kimbrel allows first homer of '12
ATLANTA -- Positioned to begin their longest homestand of the season in impressive fashion, the Braves sent Craig Kimbrel to the mound with the hope that he would extend his dominant run. But Kimbrel's first costly mistake in nearly two months proved too damaging to overcome.

Chris Young's one-out home run off Kimbrel in the ninth inning provided the D-backs a lead they would preserve on the way to avoiding a three-game sweep with a 3-2 win over the Braves on Thursday night.

"You never want to give up any runs, especially in a situation like that," Kimbrel said. "All I can do is come in tomorrow and go right back at it."

This marked the first time Kimbrel allowed a run since allowing one in each of the three appearances he made from April 29-May 4. Since then, the hard-throwing hurler had been nearly untouchable. He entered Thursday's non-save situation having allowed three hits while recording 28 strikeouts in his previous 17 innings.

But one night after drilling a home run off Jonny Venters, Young also got the best of Kimbrel, who got ahead with a 1-2 count before the Arizona outfielder hit the seventh pitch of the at-bat -- a 97-mph fastball -- over the left-center-field wall.

"I missed my spot," Kimbrel said. "We were trying to go down and away. He's a good high-ball hitter and I threw it right into his wheelhouse. He got the barrel on it and it went out."

It was the first home run Kimbrel allowed since surrendering a walk-off shot to Marlins second baseman Omar Infante after Chipper Jones lost a ball in the lights at Sun Life Stadium on Sept. 19, 2011.

"He's one of the best in the game," Young said. "His fastball is electric and he had his breaking ball working good tonight. I was able to battle, battle, battle. With him, you don't know whether to sit on the breaking ball or try to sit on the heater -- just because both of them are plus pitches for him."

Kimbrel might have had some room for error had the Braves not stranded 10 runners and gone hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. Highly regarded D-backs prospect Trevor Bauer wiggled out of some trouble while allowing two runs and lasting just four innings in his much-anticipated Major League debut.

The Braves appeared to be in position to add to a 2-0 lead when a Stephen Drew error helped them put two on with one out in the fifth inning. But Dan Uggla followed with one of his three strikeouts -- each with at least one guy on base -- and Freddie Freeman grounded out to end the frame. Uggla has batted .108 (7-for-65) with 29 strikeouts in his past 20 games.

"We had opportunities against a lot of guys," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "They made some pitches. We had the opportunities, but we didn't add on. It came back to haunt us a little bit."

The Braves were clinging to a 2-0 lead until Jair Jurrjens saw his determined effort blemished by Jason Kubel's game-tying two-run double. The first-pitch changeup that Kubel drilled to the right-center-field wall proved to be the only costly mistake made by Jurrjens, who allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Before determining how aggressively they will pursue top target Zack Greinke or other starting pitchers on the trade market, the Braves want to get a feel for what to expect from Jurrjens, who spent most of the past two months attempting to right himself with Triple-A Gwinnett.

Jurrjens was not nearly as impressive in this outing as he had been when he returned to the Majors to limit the Red Sox to one run over 7 2/3 innings last week. But with his fastball consistently sticking between 88-90 mph, he efficiently limited the D-backs to four hits over the first four innings.

"I thought he did OK," Gonzalez said. "I thought he did fine. He got out of a couple jams, and that was good to see."

Kubel created the D-backs' first threat of the night when he hit a double to begin the second inning. After a walk to Miguel Montero put runners on the corners with one out, Jason Heyward caught Aaron Hill's fly ball in right field before unleashing a strong pinpoint throw that denied Kubel's attempt to score.

Bauer pitched out of trouble after Freeman's second-inning double gave the Braves runners at second and third with just one out. But the talented right-hander proved to be his own worst enemy while issuing his only three walks and hitting a batter -- Uggla -- in a 30-pitch third inning.

After Heyward grounded into a double play following Michael Bourn's leadoff walk, it looked like Bauer might also get through the third inning unscathed. But Martin Prado followed with a walk of his own and scored from first base on Brian McCann's double to right field.

The only other run the Braves tallied came after Andrelton Simmons doubled in the fourth inning and scored with help from Jurrjens' sacrifice bunt and Bourn's sacrifice fly.

Unfortunately for Kimbrel, this was one of those few nights he could not afford to make one of his rare costly mistakes.

"He's a human, man, he's human," Prado said of Kimbrel. "I'm always going to support my guys, and he's one of the guys who's always going to be there for the team. It happens to anyone."

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