Wood superb, but Braves support falls short
Lefty tosses eight frames of one-run ball, but drops decision to Phils
PHILADELPHIA -- For a young pitcher like Alex Wood, some of the toughest lessons are the small ones. Little things that need to be done to win Major League Baseball games and brief moments that can change the complexion of the game.
Wood did a lot of things right on Thursday afternoon in a start against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, he did almost everything right for seven scoreless innings, but in the eighth, two quick clicks in time were enough to turn the tide against him and the Braves.
"That's the thing," catcher Gerald Laird said. "Somebody will talk to him on the bus or something. I know you go out and try but those are the little things in the game that can contribute to securing a win."
Wood pitched well in a 1-0 loss to the Phillies, in which he allowed one run on eight hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. A Ben Revere single in the eighth inning scored Domonic Brown from second for the game's only run as the Phillies (7-8) took the finale against the Braves (10-5).
Wood's first mistake came at the plate as he was unable to get a bunt down in the top half of the eighth inning. Had he been successful, Laird, whose double was the only extra-base hit of the day, would have been on third with one out. Instead, the Braves left Laird stranded, and the Phillies took advantage.
"It's one of those things where you have to keep working at it," Wood said. "I got behind, 0-1, and against [reliever Antonio] Bastardo, it's hard to lay off and hard to take sometimes."
"We'll sit on the bus today and dissect this outing, but he did a fantastic job," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Put aside that eighth, in which he could have done a better job both offensively and pitching, he did a terrific job. Here's a kid that hasn't handled the bat very much -- maybe seven times in the Minor Leagues. Those are the things that we have to keep working on with him so he can continue to pitch late in games."
In a series that was dominated by starting pitching, the six starters -- Ervin Santana, Julio Teheran and Wood for the Braves countered by Roberto Hernandez, Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett -- allowed four runs over the first 44 innings of work. That is until the eighth, when the Phillies finally broke through against Wood.
Brown singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Will Nieves. After Jayson Nix struck out, Ryan Howard came in to pinch-hit for Bastardo. Howard walked -- he was lifted for pinch-runner Cody Asche -- and Revere singled into center for the only run of the afternoon.
"I'm sure he didn't want to hang the curveball to Revere," Gonzalez said. "Probably wanted to spike it a little better, but he got it up in the air."
"I felt good," Wood said. "I felt I commanded the ball pretty good today. I could have worked the inner half a little better, but I was able to get some early contact which got me later into the game."
Through seven innings, Wood didn't allow a single runner to reach scoring position as he held the Phillies to four scattered hits. In the first, third and fourth innings, he was aided by double-play balls, of which only one was in the air as first baseman Freddie Freeman snagged a line drive off the bat of Jimmy Rollins to double up Revere, who had taken a few steps toward second.
Wood effectively pounded the strike zone, and the Phillies willingly hacked away as they grounded out seven times.
Burnett was equally effective if not as efficient. The veteran right-handed starter left his last start in the fifth inning due to a sore groin. He was diagnosed with a hernia this week, but Burnett has chosen to pitch through it. Even with the ailment, Burnett allowed three hits in seven innings of work as only Heyward, who moved from first to third on a B.J Upton single in the third inning, made it into scoring position.
"Seems like it's getting better each time out," Burnett said. "I was able to throw the sinker today, especially away to righties, that's where ground balls come from. [The hernia] is going to be a blessing in disguise I think. It's always going to be there, but it helps me stay within myself. And a couple pitches I tried to do too much, you could tell it wasn't right. But every time I was simple and just nice and easy, I was able to make effective pitches."