Braves downed by old foes Lohse, Gomez

Bats manage one run on four hits vs. Brewers right-hander

Braves downed by old foes Lohse, Gomez

ATLANTA -- There was not a riotous reaction to an infield fly ruling. Nor did a catcher abruptly halt Carlos Gomez's latest home run trot. But Ervin Santana managed to make sure something unique happened yet again while Kyle Lohse pitched at Turner Field.

Instead of bouncing back from his roughest outing of the season, Santana endured an even more frustrating one during Wednesday night's 6-1 loss to the Brewers. Along with surrendering his first grand slam before Lohse even began his strong eight-inning effort, the Braves' right-hander issued a costly two-out walk to his mound counterpart.

"Bad starts are going to happen," Santana said. "I just have to be prepared for that and then get my mind right and stay positive."

Santana's psyche has certainly been tested over the past week. He allowed what stood as a season-high five runs during Friday's loss to the Cardinals and then exceeded that total while allowing the slumbering Brewers offense to tally six runs during this seven-inning effort.

Before allowing 11 runs in these past two outings, Santana had surrendered a total of nine runs through his previous six starts this season. His latest disappointing performance was influenced by his inability to consistently command the outer third of the plate, especially in the first inning.

"Off the outside corner, I was just trying to pull too much with the arm to the first-base side," Santana said. "That's why I didn't have that location. After that, I just tried to refocus and hit the spot. … The first inning, I didn't have any location. For the most part, I was just trying to keep the ball down. That's what happens when you make a mistake."

Gomez began his three-hit performance with a single, and then raced to third base when Scooter Gennett followed with a double. After issuing Jonathan Lucroy a one-out walk, Santana hung a slider on the first pitch to Mark Reynolds, who drilled the flat breaking ball over the left-field wall for his third career grand slam.

Santana has allowed the sixth-most home runs per nine innings (1.22) since the start of the 2010 season. But before Reynolds came to the plate in the first inning, none of the previous 231 home runs he had surrendered had been hit with the bases loaded.

"The ball that Reynolds hit was just a cement mixer -- a slider that didn't do much," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after seeing his team's three-game winning streak snapped.

Reynolds' slam provided more than enough support for Lohse, who surrendered one run and four hits over eight innings. The 35-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.25 ERA in the seven starts (including the postseason) he has made at Turner Field.

"[Lohse] was just going in and out," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "We were aggressive off of him. He made a lot of mistakes tonight. We just popped them all up it seemed like, including myself. We just didn't get it done tonight."

Lohse said he started to really feel comfortable pitching in Atlanta when he started the 2012 National League Wild Card Game for the Cardinals. That game is best remembered as the one that was temporarily halted after umpire Sam Holbrook made a controversial infield fly ruling in the seventh inning.

Lohse's comfort level in Atlanta increased when he tossed a two-hit shutout on Sept. 25. His efforts in that game were overshadowed by the benches-clearing incident that ensued after former Braves catcher Brian McCann stood in front of the plate and prevented Gomez from completing an animated home run trot.

"Oh, yeah. I forgot about last September," Lohse joked. "I think I have a little streak of weird stuff going on in my starts."

After facing the minimum during the second and third innings, Santana was set to do the same in the fourth. But after getting ahead with an 0-1 count, he missed the strike zone with the next four pitches to Lohse. The two-out walk proved costly when Gomez sent the next pitch -- a belt-high fastball -- over the right-center-field wall.

Santana, who spent each of his previous nine seasons in the American League, had issued just one walk in the previous 30 plate appearances pitchers had recorded against him.

"That was a little bit frustrating," Santana said. "It's not right to walk the pitcher."

The Braves had tallied at least five runs in each of their previous three games, and it looked like they might extend that success when Freeman and Justin Upton hit back-to-back doubles to cut Milwaukee's lead to 4-1 in the first inning. But Jason Heyward's third-inning single and Upton's seventh-inning single served as the only other hits allowed by Lohse.

"Lohse pitched pretty good," Gonzalez said. "It seemed like he hit all of the quadrants of the strike zone -- up, down, in and away -- with all of his pitches. Other than Justin, we really didn't get any good swings at him."

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