Hanson, Braves hurt by homers, missed chances

Hanson, Braves hurt by homers, missed chances

Hanson, Braves hurt by homers, missed chances
ATLANTA -- One day after benefiting from some sloppy pitching and defense, the Braves were victimized by some bad luck. As a result, Tommy Hanson's frustrations were extended by the two costly mistakes that blemished his otherwise encouraging start.

Hanson surrendered a pair of solo home runs on two-strike pitches, and the Braves were unable to take advantage of a few scoring opportunities in their 6-0 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday night at Turner Field.

"It's too bad that he got the [loss], because I thought his performance was better than that," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Yesterday we get [two] runs in the first inning with no hits. Today we get [nine] hits and get nothing."

The homers, to Carlos Gonzalez and Jordan Pacheco, proved to be enough to doom the Braves, who recorded nine hits en route to their 12th shutout loss of the season. This offensive performance contrasted the one produced on Monday, when Atlanta gained a six-run lead with the benefit of just two hits.

While scoring two runs or fewer for the fifth time in their past eight games, the Braves halted some of the momentum generated when Chipper Jones capped Sunday night's five-run ninth with a walk-off homer off Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.

"I feel like we hit the ball hard right at guys," catcher David Ross said. "I feel like we were having good at-bats. Guys were hitting the ball hard. We were getting guys on base. There were, like, three or four line drives to their outfielders that they ran down."

Hanson retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced before allowing Gonzalez to open the scoring with a towering home run that landed more than halfway up the pavilion-level seats located just to the right of dead center. The long shot was hit on a 1-2 back-door slider that found too much of the plate.

"Tommy was nailing the back-door slider, but the scouting report in the back of my head says, 'Don't throw the back-door slider to Gonzalez,'" Ross said. "I'll take that one, because he [nailed] the pitch. It was just a bad call by me."

After following Gonzalez's homer with a pair of strikeouts, Hanson opened the fifth inning by allowing Pacheco to drill an 0-2 curveball over the left-field wall.

"The 0-2 pitch needed to be buried," Hanson said. "The one to Gonzalez, not so much. He got me. He's a good hitter, and that is not one of those situations where I'm going to beat myself up over it. The 0-2 curveball to Pacheco, I wish it was in the dirt."

With Randall Delgado already part of the expanded roster, there was some reason to wonder if Hanson might be pitching to keep his place in the rotation. He had struggled with his fastball command since the All-Star break and had lasted fewer than five innings in his two previous starts.

But other than making mistakes with the two-strike pitches, Hanson looked much different than he did while allowing opponents to produce a .426 on-base percentage in his previous seven starts. He threw 61 of his 96 pitches for strikes and issued two walks in 5 2/3 innings. The last walk loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth inning and prompted the entry of Peter Moylan, who got Pacheco to pop out to Ross and end the threat.

"Tommy just threw the heck out of the ball," Ross said. "That was one of his best outings that I've caught all year. He just really commanded his fastball in and out. He was getting the big breaking ball over to lefties. His slider wasn't the best one that he has had, but his other pitches were really good."

Moylan's five-pitch walk to Rockies reliever Carlos Torres helped Colorado increase its lead with a pair of runs in the seventh inning. They added two more runs in the eighth inning against Chad Durbin.

Using a four-man rotation that limits their starters to approximately 75 pitches, the Rockies lifted Drew Pomeranz after he scattered five hits over three scoreless innings. Michael Bourn was caught stealing third base in the first inning, and a pair of third-inning singles went to waste when Martin Prado lined out to left field to end the inning.

Consecutive singles by Prado and Jason Heyward put runners at the corners with one out in the sixth inning, but that threat ended when Ross swung through a third strike during a hit-and-run play that left Heyward no choice but to get in a rundown between first and second. This led Prado to make an unsuccessful attempt to score on the play.

"You're trying to stay out of the double play [with Ross], and you have a guy at first base that can steal you a bag," Gonzalez said. "They executed it pretty good. At the time the score is 2-0. You're trying to at least scratch one out there."

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