PHOENIX -- On a night the D-backs committed four errors and made several questionable decisions on the basepaths, they took a risk to try to tie the game in the 10th inning on Saturday night.Facing a two-run deficit with two runners on and two outs, A.J. Pollock lined a ball
PHOENIX -- On a night the D-backs committed four errors and made several questionable decisions on the basepaths, they took a risk to try to tie the game in the 10th inning on Saturday night.
Facing a two-run deficit with two runners on and two outs, A.J. Pollock lined a ball up the middle. Steven Souza Jr. easily scored from third, and third-base coach Tony Perezchica sent Nick Ahmed from second. However, Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson gathered the ball with a dive on the shallow outfield grass and made a perfect throw home to nab Ahmed, ending the game as a 5-4 loss for the D-backs at Chase Field.
"I feel like there's a certain time when you take a little bit of a risk, and there are other times that you don't," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "That may not have been the best time to take that type of risk."
After the Braves scored two runs in the top of the 10th, the D-backs, Souza drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on Ahmed's pinch-hit single and both later moved up on a wild pitch.
It took a remarkable play from Swanson to dive and field the ball on Pollock's two-out liner. The Braves shortstop then stood up and one-hopped a throw to catcher Kurt Suzuki in plenty of time to nab Ahmed.
"I saw Swanson was playing over in the hole a little bit," Ahmed said, "but I looked at the video, he made an unbelievable play to stop it and made a good throw."
Perezchica stood by the decision to send Ahmed home.
"It's going to take a great play, and [Swanson] made a great play," Perezchica said. "If it trickles one foot or two, it may not be that close of a play at the plate."
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With the Rockies' 4-2 win over the Dodgers, Arizona fell 2 1/2 games behind first-place Colorado in the National League West, matching its season-high deficit. It was the second time in three nights that the D-backs nearly had a comeback win against the Braves, but then lost in the 10th.
Atlanta scored the go-ahead run on Arizona's fourth error. Freddie Freeman walked to open the 10th and stole second base on a failed pickoff attempt by D-backs left-hander Andrew Chafin. Freeman advanced to third on an infield single by Nick Markakis and scored when D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt tried to flip the ball to Chafin covering first on the play, but the ball went past him, making it 4-3.
Two batters later, Ender Inciarte added a key insurance run for the Braves with an RBI triple off Chafin.
The D-backs committed their first three errors over the first two innings. The first blunder came when David Peralta misplayed a ball in left field in the first, which allowed Ronald Acuna Jr. to score from second and give the Braves a 2-0 lead.
"We mishandled a couple things [in the 10th] inning and we mishandled a couple things during the course of this game that I know put us in that position," Lovullo said. "Today was not Arizona Diamondbacks baseball in several areas. They're all very obvious."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
D-backs answer, can't pull ahead: In the eighth, Suzuki put the Braves ahead, 3-2, with a two-out solo home run off D-backs left-hander Jake Diekman. However, the D-backs immediately responded, tying the game on Daniel Descalso's two-out RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
The D-backs then loaded the bases when Souza walked and Ketel Marte was hit by a pitch. But pinch-hitter Ildemaro Vargas lined out to second in only his second big league at-bat of the season, leaving the bases loaded and the game tied.
The D-backs loaded the bases with the game tied again in the ninth, but Descalso lined out to center as the Braves forced extras. Arizona finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position -- the one hit being Pollock's single on the game's final play -- and left 12 runners on base.
"We had some chances, for sure, and didn't cash in," Ahmed said. "It stings, but it's one game, we'll come back at it tomorrow."
BUCHHOLZ CONTINUES RESURGENCE
D-backs starter Clay Buchholz overcame the club's sloppy start, settling in to toss 6 1/3 strong innings. The right-hander allowed no runs after the Braves' two-run first, gave up five hits, walked two and struck out six.
Buchholz lowered his ERA to 2.01 and allowed no more than one earned run for the fifth straight start.
"Once again, it was a dynamite outing for him," Lovullo said. "It seems like he keeps getting better and better every time."
Buchholz hit a game-tying RBI double in the second for his first career extra-base hit and his first career RBI. He entered the game as a career .068 hitter (3-for-44).
"10 years in the American League, you'd think you would get lucky and do something," Buchholz said. "That was a high moment for me, individually, and the team, to get us back at a knot right there."
HE SAID IT
"That was an amazing ballgame, that was awesome. From the way they played and the way we played, that was fun. That's how you should play. It was a lot of good entertainment for the fans." -- Goldschmidt, on the close, back-and-forth game
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
After Inciarte's RBI triple in the 10th pushed the Braves' lead to 5-3, they almost added another run. Ozzie Albies hit a two-out grounder to Descalso, who was playing in at second. Descalso made a nice throw to catcher John Ryan Murphy at home to nab Inciarte to end the inning. The Braves challenged the play, but the call stood to keep the D-backs' deficit at two runs.
Robbie Ray (5-2, 4.25 ERA) will take the mound for the D-backs in Sunday's series finale against the Braves at 1:10 p.m. MST at Chase Field. Ray is 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA in six starts since the beginning of August. Last time out, the left-hander struck out 10 in 6 1/3 scoreless innings vs. the Padres. Atlanta will turn to right-hander Touki Toussaint (1-1, 3.38), who was drafted by the D-backs in 2014 and traded to the Braves in '15. Toussaint is making his third career start.
Jake Rill is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in Phoenix.