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Bullpen fails again: Braves 8, Brewers 7

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Leaving runners on base and poor pitching spell defeat

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves
Homer #29 for Jesus Aguilar
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

WP: Jonny Venters (2-1) LP: Dan Jennings (4-4) Save: A.J. Minter (10); Home runs: Mil - Jesus Aguilar (29); Atl - Ronald Acuna (15), Dansby Swanson (9), Ozzie Albies (21)

How many disappointing Box Scores can you take?

The Atlanta Braves (64-51) won a see-saw game over the Milwaukee Brewers (67-54) this afternoon on a sweltering day in Atlanta, 8-7, hitting three home runs and leaving just four runners on base all day. The Brewers had nineteen hits and four walks, as well as reaching base on an error, but left thirteen on base. The Crew hit into two double plays and had another on a strike out, thrown out stealing. Neither starting pitcher had a good game as Chase Anderson (Milwaukee) and Sean Newcomb (Atlanta) both only lasted four innings.

Once again, a Brewer starting pitcher was ineffective in the first inning. Anderson allowed three hits and a walk, with the Braves scoring twice on an RBI triple by Nick Markakis and a single from Johan Camargo. Ronald Acuna led off with a walk, but was erased on a strike-’em-out, throw-’em out DP with Ozzie Albies at the plate. Markakis’ triple was a groundball just inside the first base line that Christian Yelich played to hit the outcrop of the stands, but it went past him into the corner allowing Freddie Freeman to score easily and Markakis to get into third standing up. Two-zip Bravos.

Newcomb was just one out away from a no-hitter two starts ago, but the Brewers hit him hard early. In the first inning, with two down, Jesus Aguilar and Ryan Braun singled. Hernan Perez had a chance to put the Brewers up early, but his line drive was snagged by a leaping Camargo at third to retire the side. In the second, Newcomb walked Mike Moustakas to lead off the inning. Jonathan Schoop replaced Moose at first on a fielder’s choice, and Manny Pina’s double in the the right-center gap short-hopped the wall and put runners on second and third. Anderson fell behind 0-2, but Newcomb left a curveball where Anderson could golf it on the ground past a diving Dansby Swanson and into center, scoring both base runners to tie things up at two. Lorenzo Cain singled to center but Yelich and Aguilar were retired to end the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Anderson hung a 1-2 curveball that Tyler Flowers dumped into left center for a single. A flyout and sac bunt brought up Acuna, and he ripped a 2-1 91 mph fastball well out to left center to put the Braves back on top, 4-2.

After two innings, both teams had five hits and six total runs had crossed the plate.

Milwaukee picked up two more singles in the top of the third but no runs. The roof partially caved in on Newcomb in the fourth, however. After striking out Anderson, the Brewers put together five straight hits. LoCain and Yeli singled, and Aguilar took a 3-2 curveball well out to right center, putting the Brewers on top 5-4. Braun doubled into left center, followed by a base hit from Perez to put runners at the corners. After Perez took second on a passed ball, Mouskakis lined out to left, Schoop walked (really!) and Pina fouled out to end the inning. Through four innings, the Crew had left nine men on base, six of them in scoring position.

That would be it for Newcomb, as he was pinch hit for in the bottom half of the fourth. He finished the day going four innings, allowing five earned runs on twelve hits and two walks, striking out two.

Anderson settled down and worked the bottoms of the third and fourth with just a two out walk in the fourth. His day was done after four, though, as Jhoulys Chacin got a pinch-hit appearance leading off the top of the fifth. After Jhoulys fanned, LoCain posted his third straight base hit. His attempt to steal second was called out. Despite replay clearly showing him to be safe, the call stood, much to Lo’s disgust. The call and failure to overturn cost the team a run when Yelich worked a walk and Aguilar doubled off the wall in right. That did score Yelich, though, and Milwaukee led 6-4 into the bottom of the fifth.

Chase’s day saw four innings, four earned runs, five hits, two walks, and four k’s. His pitch count was in the sixties, but with a very warm day in Atlanta Craig Counsell went with Corey Knebel in an effort to get the big righty back on track after his ninth inning meltdown Thursday night. It didn’t work; after getting the first two out Freeman and Markakis had back to back doubles to get that run back. Knebel retired Camargo on a bouncer to second to end the inning, and on the plus side he had better command of the strike zone. 6-5 Brewers.

The Crew picked that run back up in the top of the sixth on a lead-off double from Perez and an immediate balk from Luke Jackson, sending Hernan to third. Moustakis singled to center to plate Perez. Schoop hit a slow roller to short for a double play...sorta. Schoop obviously beat the throw to first, but with the second base umpire and replay crew messing up the LoCain call on the stolen base Milwaukee was out of challenges - so too bad, so sad. But Milwaukee was back up by two, 7-5.

The Brewers did a double switch to start the bottom of the sixth, with Eric Kratz going to catcher to replace Manny Pina, who had taken a foul tip in the fifth. Corbin Burnes took Pina’s spot in the order after Manny had struck out to end the top of the inning. With one out, Burnes hit Tyler Flowers with his first pitch, and then got ahead of Dansby Swanson with two sliders before the Atlanta shortstop pulled an up and in fastball out to left to tie things up at seven. Through six innings the Braves had seven runs on eight hits; the Brewers had seven runs on sixteen hits.

Milwaukee continued leaving baserunners strewn all over the place in the top of the seventh. Lead off singles by Kratz and Cain and a poor throw on a pick-off attempt from Braves’ catcher Flowers had runners at second and third with nobody out. But Yelich struck out and the Braves intentionally waked Aguilar, loading them up for Braun. Ryan tried to pull a low outside fastball and rolled into an easy 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. The Braves got a lead-off homer from Ozzie Albies in the bottom of the frame, and led 8-7 into the eighth. At that point the Brewers had left twelve on base, Atlanta three.

Perez reached base on an error to start the eighth, but with Moustakas at the plate with two strikes Perez took off for a steal attempt. Moose struck out and Perez was an easy out at second...it looked like he wasn’t running hard at the start of the attempt.

Jennings and Jacob Barnes held the Braves scoreless in the bottom of the inning despite a two-out, two error play by Barnes. Swanson topped an easy roller to Barnes, and Jacob fumbled it and then threw it away down the rightfield line, sending Swanson all the way to third. But a grounder to short ended the inning.

Erik Kratz had a one out single in the ninth and took second on a wild pitch with two down, but Braves closer A.J. Minter struck out Yelich to end the game.

The Brewers trail the Cubs by 2.5 games heading into tonight’s Cubs-Nationals match. After both teams get an off day Monday they face off for two at Wrigley Tuesday and Wednesday. Game one will have Jhoulys Chacin (11-4, 3.91) for Milwaukee facing Jose Quintana (10-8, 4.28). I know that there are still 41 games left in the season, but these two feel very must-winnish.