PITTSBURGH -- The Braves knew stiff challenges awaited as they opened this season with three-game sets against the Pirates. But through this season's first five games, they have added to the challenge with frustrating performances such as Saturday night's 6-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park."We're sloppy, and to
PITTSBURGH -- The Braves knew stiff challenges awaited as they opened this season with three-game sets against the Pirates. But through this season's first five games, they have added to the challenge with frustrating performances such as Saturday night's 6-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.
"We're sloppy, and to a man anyone in here would tell you the same thing," Braves veteran pitcher R.A. Dickey said. "We need to tighten it up a little bit. We're playing pretty good baseball if we just tighten it up a little bit."
Dickey certainly wasn't the only one feeling this way after the Braves grounded into four double plays, committed two errors and saw Kurt Suzuki charged with three passed balls that moved Atlanta's record to 1-4. Suzuki has attempted to quickly gain comfort with catching Dickey's knuckleball, but he was chasing it far more frequently than desired during the sixth inning.
Alen Hanson reached on a one-out infield single in the sixth inning and scored with the assistance of a wild pitch and two passed balls.
"Some days [the knuckleball] is good," Suzuki said. "Some days it's really good. And some days, you get the hang of it. In that one inning, [the knuckleball] was shaking more than it was diving. That's the tough ones because I don't know if they're going to go down or cut."
With two out in the second inning, Adonis Garcia's throwing error allowed the Pirates to cap a two-run second inning, and second baseman Brandon Phillips booted a grounder as Pittsburgh benefited from more generosity during a two-run third.
"We all have a part to play in it. I could have pitched better to the bottom part of the lineup," Dickey said. "We're all just looking for that rhythm right now. With the pedigree in here, it will come. We just don't need to panic. But we do need to be honest about what we need to do to get better, and that's how you grow as a baseball team. I think everybody will tell you we started the year a little bit sloppy. There's a lot of room to clean things up, and I think we will."
While Suzuki might have had a rough inning, he hasn't given Dickey any reason to be concerned being paired together throughout this season.
"When you throw ones that are moving multiple directions with velocity, it's hard," Dickey said. "So, I have a lot of empathy for Kurt. Nobody works harder than he does right now. Unfortunately, tonight there were a couple [passed balls] that came in crucial situations. But he'll get better. He wants to get better, and he has the right mentality."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.