Homers undo Braves in extra-innings loss

Homers undo Braves in extra-innings loss

Homers undo Braves in extra-innings loss
ATLANTA -- One day after playing one of their ugliest games of the season, the Braves saw Brian McCann deliver a clutch home run that only delayed the frustration that they felt at the end of a disheartening extra-innings loss.

Instead of feeding off the momentum McCann created with his two-out home run in the 10th inning Wednesday night, the Braves were subdued by the two three-run home runs that Chad Durbin surrendered in the 11th inning of a 9-4 loss to the Giants.

"It's an unfortunate loss," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "It was a well-played game until the last couple of innings. It seemed like we had some magic left in the tank there late. But obviously when you give up six runs in extra innings, it's going to spell your doom."

Jones hit an opposite-field home run in the 11th inning and made an incredible diving catch while playing on a sore right knee in the eighth inning. But by the end of the night, he was left to think about the errant flip to the plate he made during San Francisco's two-run 10th and the opportunities that were squandered long before Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco hit their three-run homers off Durbin.

After right-handed reliever Anthony Varvaro hit Eli Whiteside and walked Brandon Belt to open the 11th inning, Durbin allowed the Giants to take the lead for good with Crawford's one-out home run over the right-center-field wall. Crawford's game-winning shot -- his second home run of the season -- came one pitch after he had fallen to the ground after fouling a pitch off his right knee.

When Crawford went to the ground, the Giants were in danger of losing their final position player and possibly putting pitcher Matt Cain in right field in the bottom half of the inning. But the stress felt at that moment was long gone by the time Blanco hit his own three-run home run off Durbin, who had surrendered just one home run in the 22 2/3 innings that had encompassed his previous 30 appearances.

"After Mac's homer, we're a pitch away from getting a double play and us hitting," Durbin said. "Then you blink and it's 9-3."

When Blanco hit his home run, the Braves were not happy with the reaction of Melky Cabrera, who was not a fan favorite when he was about 20 pounds heavier while playing his only season in Atlanta two years ago.

Some fans voiced their displeasure toward the way Cabrera trotted around the bases after a sixth-inning home run and then taunted Jason Heyward to take third base on a fly ball in the bottom of the sixth. The veteran outfielder was booed as he came to the plate in the eighth inning and some cheers were heard when he was brushed back by an Eric O'Flaherty fastball. They cheered again when he dropped a fly ball with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

"That's Melky and that's why he is not here anymore," Jones said. "He got a little happy when I think Blanco hit the home run. It won't be forgotten."

The Braves, who had won seven straight before dropping the first two games of this series, were down to their last out against Santiago Casilla before McCann followed Freddie Freeman's two-out double with his game-tying home run in the 10th inning. The opposite-field shot erased the damage created in the top half of the inning after Joaquin Arias hit a triple that eluded Heyward's glove in the right-center-field gap.

Following an intentional walk, Varvaro got Justin Christian to hit a weak chopper to the left side of the plate. A charging Jones barehanded the baseball and then made an errant flip that sailed over McCann's head and reached the screen. Cabrera followed with a single that produced what proved to be a necessary insurance run.

"It takes too much time to come back and throw overhand," Jones said. "It's one of those do-or-die plays and I knew the guy was fast. I possibly could have sidearmed it, but he was running on the inside. So that kind of takes the angle away from it. I figured I tried to flip it as hard as I could, put a little more on the flip. It turned out that it cost me."

Adding to the evening's frustrations was the fact that the Braves had not taken advantage of Mike Minor's impressive effort. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed three hits and one run while recording seven strikeouts over six innings. He kept the Giants hitless through the first four innings and was damaged only by Cabrera's two-out, sixth-inning home run.

Unfortunately for Minor, the only offensive support he received came courtesy of Juan Francisco's third-inning leadoff home run against Ryan Vogelsong.

While limiting the Braves to four hits and one run over six innings, Vogelsong provided a glimpse of how he had posted a 1.97 ERA in his previous 13 starts. The veteran right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Heyward and walked McCann in the fourth inning. But he quieted that threat with one of the four strikeouts registered by Dan Uggla, who has batted .111 (12-for-108) in his past 33 games.

"It was a hard-fought game on both sides," McCann said. "We just didn't come out of it as a winner."

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