Lack of command, error lead to D-backs' loss
Two HBPs set stage for seven-run Atlanta eighth; Arizona walks seven
ATLANTA -- This is a game the D-backs could very much regret losing down the road.
Whereas Friday night they were simply outplayed by the Braves, on Saturday they gave away an 11-5 loss, thanks to seven walks and a crucial error.
"We didn't deserve to win the game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
The loss was the fourth in the first five games of this 10-game road trip.
Despite sloppy play and poor command by the pitchers, the D-backs held a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, thanks to a solo home run in the top of the inning by Miguel Montero.
And then, well, Montero summed it up best.
"Everything fell apart," the catcher said.
Indeed, setup man David Hernandez came in, and after retiring the first batter he faced, hit the next two with pitches.
That touched off an inning that saw the Braves send 11 men to the plate and blow the game wide open with seven runs.
Both of the hit-by-pitches came on breaking balls, and when Hernandez has struggled this year, it's been when he cannot command that pitch. That was the case Saturday.
"It's been pretty inconsistent overall in general this season," Hernandez said. "It's frustrating. It's a game we should have won. When you can't throw a curveball over, and all you have to look for is a fastball, that makes it pretty easy to narrow it down."
The one constant this year for the D-backs has been their defense, but even that was not there for them in the eighth on the play that gave the Braves the lead.
Jason Heyward looped a double to left that scored Reed Johnson from second to tie the game. But when Jason Kubel threw the ball to the infield, it went over the head of the first cutoff man, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and appeared to hit a pebble on the field and took an odd bounce away from third baseman Eric Chavez, who was backing up Gregorius.
The ball rolled away just far enough for Andrelton Simmons to make a mad dash from third and give the Braves a 6-5 lead.
"In that situation, we've got to hit the cutoff and make the routine plays, you know?" Montero said. "That's something that we practice a lot, and we didn't execute today and it showed."
What also was apparent was that starter Ian Kennedy was not sharp as a result of being out of action for 10 days due to his part in a melee with the Dodgers earlier this month.
"Ian was rusty today," Gibson said. "He battled, left the game and we had it tied up there. We had a chance to win it in the eighth, and the bullpen didn't throw very good and we didn't play very good."
Kennedy worked on trying to stay sharp during the layoff throwing multiple bullpen sessions and a simulated game, but there is no way to simulate the speed of a big league game.
Kennedy's lack of command would show up in the fifth inning, which while not as ugly as the eighth, was still not pretty.
"Definitely, you could tell I wasn't in sync," Kennedy said.
The game was tied at 2 in the fifth when Kennedy walked the bases loaded with one out, prompting Gibson to remove him in favor of reliever Will Harris.
The problem was Harris' command was no better, as he walked the first batter he faced -- the .201-hitting Dan Uggla -- to force home a run.
B.J. Upton then lifted a fly ball to center that scored Freddie Freeman from third and gave the Braves a 4-2 lead.
So the Braves scored a pair of runs in the inning without the benefit of a hit.
"We manufactured some runs, something a lot of people say we can't do," B.J. Upton said.
The D-backs, though, felt it was a game they gave away by walking seven and hitting three batters.
"That's 10, you're giving away 10 bases right there, and I don't think we had a ground-ball double play," Montero said. "If you realize how many runs that they scored without getting a hit, it just [stinks], you know? There was like five walks in that [fifth] inning. That's really unacceptable. We've got to make better pitches, we've got to pitch better, we've got to throw strikes and obviously we've got to make adjustments, because that's unacceptable."