Solarte, Rivera homers can't pick up Stults
Padres left-hander derailed by Braves' six-run third inning
ATLANTA -- If you were somehow able to completely disregard what occurred in during the third inning on Sunday at Turner Field, then Eric Stults' outing against the Braves wouldn't have just looked good.
It might have actually rated as downright dominant.
But the truth is, Stults didn't exactly just suffer a hiccup during that inning that could be chalked up as happenstance, as the six runs he allowed gave the Braves all the fuel they needed in an 8-3 runaway victory over the Padres before a crowd of 31,456.
It's what happened in Stults' other innings that made the one blight on his mark Sunday curious -- as the rest of his night included five spotless innings where he didn't allow a run, a hit and issued just one lonely and harmless walk.
"I executed a few pitches but didn't get outs on them. I think four [of the six hits] were executed pitches in my mind," Stults said. "That's one of the frustrating things when you're out there and you get a lot of balls on the ground but a lot of them find holes."
Stults, who tied Kevin Correia of the Twins for the most losses in baseball (13), retired the first six hitters he faced before allowing consecutive doubles to Gerald Laird and Andrelton Simmons. With one run in, Stults struck out pitcher Mike Minor before allowing a single by B.J. Upton. A run-scoring single to Tommy La Stella gave the Braves a 2-1 lead.
"We kept the line moving," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Stults walked Freddie Freeman and looked like he might get out of the mess when he struck out Justin Upton for the second time in the game. Chris Johnson lined a ball down the first-base line that Yasmani Grandal couldn't corral, as two runs scored on the double for a 4-1 lead. Ryan Doumit followed with a two-run single of his own for a 6-1 advantage.
"He deserved a better fate," said Padres manager Bud Black said of Stults. "He got some ground balls through the infield, one ground ball between his legs, a bad hop over the shoulder [of Grandal]. They bunched hits together."
Stults, who is 0-9 on the road this season, finished with three scoreless innings. The Padres were able to climb back within three runs at 6-3 when Rene Rivera hit a home run in the sixth inning and as Tommy Medica knocked in a run with an RBI single in the seventh inning.
"I like the face that Stultsy bounced back. I look at the five no-hit innings as a positive," Black said. "That is real important. Stults doesn't melt. He has a good back bone. He'll take it and keep going."
But reliever Alex Torres loaded the bases on a hit and two walks in the bottom of the seventh inning and the relief pitcher who followed Torres in the game, Blaine Boyer, allowed two inherited runners to score as the Braves upped their lead to 8-3.
The Padres got their first run in the second inning when Yangervis Solarte clubbed his first home run as a Padre. Solarte, obtained last week from the Yankees in the Chase Headley deal, has a club-record RBI in each of his first five games with the team.
"It's a good sign," Black said. "He's coming here knowing the opportunity presented to him. It's good to see him trying to make his mark."