ATLANTA -- Other than the fact the offense created no room for error, the Braves seemingly had the Brewers where they wanted them when Atlanta handed a one-run lead to their much-improved and recently revitalized bullpen.But Jesse Biddle's bid to extend his recent dominance was foiled by the defensive miscue
ATLANTA -- Other than the fact the offense created no room for error, the Braves seemingly had the Brewers where they wanted them when Atlanta handed a one-run lead to their much-improved and recently revitalized bullpen.
But Jesse Biddle's bid to extend his recent dominance was foiled by the defensive miscue he made at the start of a frustration-filled, three-run eighth inning that allowed the Brewers to claim a 4-2 win over the Braves on Saturday night at SunTrust Park.
"That was just one of those games for him," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's been just lights out and nails for a long, long time."
When the Braves moved back into a first-place tie with the Phillies on Friday, they had to give much of the credit to a bullpen that two weeks ago counted Biddle and closer A.J. Minter as its only dependable pieces. The acquisitions of Brad Brach and Jonny Venters prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline solidified a relief corps that has recently created confidence in the ability to preserve a one-run lead.
Ronald Acuna Jr. delivered a leadoff homer, and Nick Markakis provided a go-ahead single. Brach preserved a 2-1 lead with a scoreless seventh, but the potential win began to slip away when Biddle unsuccessfully attempted to barehand Freddie Freeman's flip to begin the eighth.
"That's a play we've got to make," Snitker said. "I think he needs to use his glove there. It sets up for a lefty to use his glove." Lorenzo Cain followed the error by lacing a fastball to center. Mike Moustakas then hit an elevated, center-cut slider the other way for a go-ahead two-run double.
"Obviously, the slider to Moustakas was up and middle," Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "He hit it out there. Cain's ball kind of cut back to the middle. It was down. It was a groundball that snuck up the middle. A foot to the second base, that's a double play."
Biddle has arguably been the Braves' best reliever over the past two months. He entered Saturday with a 1.21 ERA dating back to June 21, and you'd have to go back to May 13 to find an instance when he allowed more than one hit in an appearance consisting of one inning or less.
"He's been really good, but you can't expect him to be perfect," Snitker said.
Biddle's rough inning denied a win for Julio Teheran, who, through the first four innings issued two walks, hit a pair of batters and allowed two singles, including one to Brewers starter Wade Miley. But the lone run surrendered during his six innings was tallied by Yelich, who drew a leadoff walk and scored on Braun's single.
Acuna erased the Braves' early deficit when he greeted Miley with his second leadoff homer and his 14th homer of the season. Freeman doubled and scored on Markakis' single in the fourth. But the Braves did not deal further damage to Miley, who allowed six hits over six innings.
"Whenever I get the ball, the goal is to win the game," Teheran said. "If I have a good outing and we lose, then it doesn't mean anything to me. It's OK. It's part of the game. The relievers have been doing good and they don't want to mess up."
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Biddle would have had some room for error had Braun not made a jaw-dropping diving grab to deny Ender Inciarte of what would have been a run-producing extra-base hit. Per Statcast™, Braun raced 58 feet toward the left-field line in 3.6 seconds to grab the opposite-field liner that had a 19 percent catch probability. This was his first five-star catch of the season.
"He made that catch and I said, 'Uh, oh,'" Snitker said. "I thought it was a double down in the corner as soon as he hit it. Then he sprawled out. In a game like that, that's a huge run. That saved them the ballgame."
Teheran has walked the first batter he's faced in each of his past three starts and has now issued 20 first-inning walks -- matching his combined total from the past two seasons. He has an 8.22 ERA in the first inning and a 3.50 ERA in all other innings this season.
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Acuna has hit .316, produced a 1.043 OPS and tallied seven of his 14 homers in his 79 at-bats since moving to the leadoff spot on July 20. The Braves now have five leadoff homers (Ozzie Albies, 3, and Acuna, 2), which is their highest total since the 2013 team matched the franchise record of seven.
"He's just been real aggressive," Snitker said. "He's just been more on the attack. It looks like he's more comfortable leading off."
Coming off two of his best starts of the season, Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb (10-5, 3.15 ERA) will be on the mound for Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Brewers at SunTrust Park. This will be Newcomb's first home start since July 29, when he came within a strike of no-hitting the Dodgers. He allowed one run over six innings against the Nationals on Tuesday. Milwaukee will counter with Chase Anderson (7-7, 3.81). First pitch is set for 1:35 p.m. ET.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.