Braves' 9th-inning rally vs. Crew falls short

Atlanta has rare rubber-game loss; Donaldson homers, drives in four

July 17th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- Despite dropping their first series in more than a month, the Braves head home confident going into a four-game set against the Nationals.

Starter allowed homers to and , and the Braves couldn’t overcome a five-run deficit in a 5-4 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.

It was the second consecutive loss for Atlanta after four wins to start the post All-Star break road trip. The series loss was the first for the Braves since losing two out of three at Pittsburgh, June 4-6. Atlanta was 9-0-1 in 10 series since then -- winning five straight rubber matches -- before dropping the final two games at Miller Park.

The Braves scored two in the eighth on ’s 22nd homer, a two-run shot off Junior Guerra. Donaldson singled in two more in the ninth before Josh Hader struck out Ozzie Albies with two aboard.

“I just think they played a pretty good series,” Donaldson said. “Our goal is to win every series and we’ve done a really good job of that lately. This series didn’t go the way that we wanted it to, but you turn the page. We’re going to get back home and look to win some more games.”

The loss left the Braves six games up on Washington in the NL East. The Nationals were set to play Baltimore on Wednesday night.

“It’s going to be a big series, but until you clinch the division they’re all big series,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Every game you play is big from here on out. After the All-Star break I’ve always looked at it, even when I was a third-base coach, the games are all big. All you want to do is get to the ballpark and play them.”

After being held to one hit over 5 2/3 scoreless innings by starter , the Braves had 11 baserunners from the sixth inning on.

Atlanta finished with six hits, but failed to take advantage of seven walks, stranding 10 -- including seven in the final four innings.

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“We had opportunities,” Snitker said. “We definitely had opportunities, guys on base, just couldn’t get a big hit.”

Atlanta, now 4-31 when trailing after eight innings, had its shot against Hader, who came on to start the ninth.

Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo opened with consecutive pinch-hit singles. With two outs, Freddie Freeman struck out swinging, but the ball popped away from catcher Pina, who threw wildly to first, allowing Freeman to reach on the error and load the bases.

Donaldson followed a two-run single up the middle to make it 5-4. Hader then struck out Albies for his 21st save.

The Braves had their best chance in the seventh, loading the bases with one out against Freddy Peralta, who escaped by striking out Ronald Acuna Jr. and getting Dansby Swanson on a bouncer to short.

Pina, starting behind the plate in place of Yasmani Grandal, delivered a two-run shot in the second after Jesus Aguilar reached on an error by Donaldson at third to open the inning.

Keuchel, making his sixth start since joining the Braves in early June, allowed only one single over the next three innings, before Yelich lined his 34th homer over the wall in left center with one out in the sixth to make it 3-0.

The Brewers then chased Keuchel with a reverse cycle as Ryan Braun tripled, Keston Huira doubled and Pina delivered an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-0.

Keuchel, who had pitched at least seven innings in each of his previous three starts, allowed a season-high five runs (four earned) on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

“I was kind of teetering on the edge there for awhile and was fortunate to get to the sixth,” Keuchel said. “I felt like I didn't have too good of command of my fastball. I was behind on a lot of guys after the third and just couldn't corral it together there in the sixth. I just kind of ran out of gas and turned a close game into an extended vacation. I'd like to have that sixth inning back. I felt really good coming into the game, so that was a little bit of a shocker."