ATLANTA -- Manager Andy Green and the Padres can pinpoint the exact moment the game fully turned in the Braves' favor in San Diego's 4-2 loss to Atlanta at SunTrust Park on Thursday night.The moment in question came on a controversial call in the seventh inning. Braves catcher Tyler Flowers
ATLANTA -- Manager Andy Green and the Padres can pinpoint the exact moment the game fully turned in the Braves' favor in San Diego's 4-2 loss to Atlanta at SunTrust Park on Thursday night.
The moment in question came on a controversial call in the seventh inning. Braves catcher Tyler Flowers was ruled to have been hit by a Tyson Ross pitch on the hand to lead off the frame. The Padres challenged the call, but the ruling on the field stood, putting Flowers on first. A few batters later, Flowers scored on Ender Inciarte's groundout to first base, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead.
"Flowers said probably five times that he wasn't hit," Green said. "The replay said he wasn't hit. It's those moments as a manager that you aren't even sure why you have replay. It was blatantly obvious that it didn't hit him."
After the pitch, catcher A.J. Ellis said Flowers "instantaneously" said he was not hit by the pitch. After the game, however, Flowers said the pitch did hit something.
"I told [home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger] I didn't think it hit me," Flowers recalled. "The more I thought about it sitting there and then seeing the replay, I know it hit something. It might have been me. I wear so many guards and stuff, it might have nicked one of those."
Regardless of whether or not the pitch hit Flowers, the Padres believe the call altered the trajectory of the game.
"It changes the way we manage the bullpen. It changes the way we go after everything. That's frustrating," Green said. "It's frustrating for a team that didn't play very well but fought back at the end of the game to give us a chance."
Despite the call and the Braves' ensuing three-run lead, the Padres' offense wouldn't go quietly. San Diego answered with two runs in the top of the eighth on Eric Hosmer's hard ground ball down the right-field line with two outs.
Ross, the Padres' starter, was dealt the loss despite recording a quality start. The right-hander allowed three runs on three hits and a walk, with four K's, in his six innings of work.
With the loss, the Padres' streak of wins in Ross' starts came to an end. They had won six consecutive games in which Ross started, dating back to May 7.
Braves starter Anibal Sanchez kept the Padres off the scoreboard through seven innings, as they registered just four hits against him.
"We weren't able to muster much offensively," Green said. "It took us seven innings to really get going."
After the Padres cut the deficit to a run in the top of the 8th, the Braves were gifted again with two outs in the bottom of the frame. Flowers tapped a slow roller to Padres reliever Adam Cimber, who fielded the ball but made an errant throw to first, allowing Freddie Freeman to score a Braves insurance run.
The Braves first struck with two outs in the bottom of the third, when Ozzie Albies doubled to center to score Inciarte. Two innings later, Inciarte smacked a 1-0 cutter deep to right field for a solo home run.
The Padres' offense had a good opportunity to get on the board against Sanchez and the Braves in the top of the sixth, when they had runners on first and third with one out. But Sanchez induced consecutive infield popouts from Cory Spangenberg and Hosmer.
"We had the opportunity there with first and third and the heart of our order up," Green said, "[We] didn't cash in."
With Ross' walk of Albies in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Padres' three-game streak without surrendering a walk was snapped. The Padres went 32 consecutive innings without issuing a walk, tying a franchise record that had stood undisturbed since July 1971.
HE SAID IT
"Any person in the stadium, they're laughing after the call. It didn't get overturned because there wasn't enough evidence to overturn it. I think Flowers had enough evidence to overturn it, because he knew he didn't get hit by the pitch. ... That cost us. To me, that's unacceptable because you have all day to get that one right." -- Green, on the Flowers hit-by-pitch call
Clayton Richard follows up a superb outing in his last start with Friday night's bout vs. the Braves at SunTrust Park at 4:35 p.m. PT. The Padres' southpaw took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins on Sunday. The Braves will counter with right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who has posted a 6.19 ERA in his past three starts.
Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.