ATLANTA -- When the Braves saw what had been a league-leading bullpen ERA damaged when the Cubs tallied a nine-run eighth inning with just three hits on Saturday, they were burdened by uncomfortable conditions and the reality that it was only a matter of time until a high walk rate
ATLANTA -- When the Braves saw what had been a league-leading bullpen ERA damaged when the Cubs tallied a nine-run eighth inning with just three hits on Saturday, they were burdened by uncomfortable conditions and the reality that it was only a matter of time until a high walk rate proved costly.
Through the first nine innings of Tuesday night's game against the Phillies, the Braves extended their trend of routinely escaping the potential damage of bases on balls. But they flirted with disaster one too many times and saw Jose Ramirez issue the costly decisive walk that led to a 5-1, 10-inning loss.
"It's one of those things, when you keep pushing that envelope, it's not going to be good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They go to work in the video room and whether it's mechanical or mental or whatever, we'll work to get it right because these guys are too good to put themselves in that position."
Ramirez mulled around his locker briefly following what was his second shaky outing within a span of four days, escaping to the back of the clubhouse and emerging nearly 30 minutes later with his right shoulder wrapped. The right-handed reliever says he has dealt with tightness in the shoulder since Spring Training, but it has recently worsened.
Asked if he would need to go on the disabled list, Ramirez said he did not know. But the Braves may have to do something with the right-handed reliever, who has issued five walks and surrendered five hits while accounting for just four outs over his past two appearances.
"I'm definitely worried about the walks," Ramirez said through an interpreter. "I've been struggling with the first hitters in the lineup. I'm just trying to get everything sorted out and I'm dealing with the shoulder."
The Braves pitched around Sam Freeman's leadoff walk in the eighth and the free pass Arodys Vizcaino issued to begin a scoreless ninth. But Ramirez wasn't as fortunate after he opened the 10th with a first-pitch walk to Scott Kingery, who stole second and took third on Cesar Hernandez's bunt that put runners on the corners with none out.
Ramirez nearly wiggled out of trouble, but his bid to escape unscathed faded when Rhys Hoskins drilled a two-out, two-run double off the right-field wall to give the Phillies all they needed to claim the win.
The 1.34 bullpen ERA the Braves carried into Saturday has risen to 3.13, which still ranks ninth in the Majors. But Atlanta's relief corps has also issued a MLB-high 46 walks, 10 more than the Orioles, who have issued the second-most bullpen walks.
"You can't expect to be real successful when you go out there and issue leadoff walks and four-pitch walks," Snitker said. "It's rough. At some point that is going to bite you."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Encouraging sign: Ender Inciarte halted his recent skid, as he matched the three-hit performance he notched against the Phillies on March 31. The National League Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder scored on Preston Tucker's two-out single off Nick Pivetta in the first inning. But he also quieted a seventh-inning threat when he grounded out with two on and one out.
Inciarte entered the game having hit .180 with a .255 on-base percentage since that previous three-hit game, which stands as the only multi-hit performance he's had since recording his first 200-hit season last year.
"He's going to hit," Snitker said. "He got a couple days of rest over the weekend and he's going to be fine."
Bent, but didn't break: Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz struggled with his fastball command and issued four walks but he limited his damage to Odubel Herrera's RBI single in the third inning. Foltynewicz recorded three of his eight strikeouts during a perfect sixth and induced a double-play groundout during each of the three innings the Phillies produced at least two baserunners. The most influential twin-killing occurred in the fourth, when he got Hoskins to drill a grounder to third baseman Ryan Flaherty with two on and one out.
"It was a fun start," Foltynewicz said. "My fastball command wasn't there, but it had good life on it. So, I was effectively wild. I kind of had to rely on the slider most of the game. Then during the fifth and sixth innings, I think I finally slowed down a little bit."
• Tucker has tallied eight of his 13 RBIs in the first inning. The seven first-inning RBIs he had entering Tuesday tied him with Giancarlo Stanton and A.J. Pollock for the league lead.
• Pivetta's fifth-inning single was the 12th hit he has allowed to a pitcher since the start of 2017. Jonathan Lester and Patrick Corbin have surrendered a league-high 13 such hits within this span.
HE SAID IT
"The last two games, it's been real encouraging what we've seen. He kept the game in check, never gave in and made pitches when he had to. ... He gave us a chance." -- Snitker, on the improved mound demeanor Foltynewicz has shown when he's encountered trouble this year
Brandon McCarthy will take the mound opposite Phillies starter Vince Velasquez when the Braves and Phils conclude their three-game series Wednesday at 7:35 p.m. ET at SunTrust Park. McCarthy said he was sore for just one day after having to leave last week's start against the Nationals with a partially dislocated left shoulder.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.