Vivlamore reporting from Turner Field. Here is the game story from the Braves’ 4-0 loss to the Phillies Thursday afternoon.
While Randall Delgado rebounded from two poor starts, it was the Braves’ bats that couldn’t bounce back just hours after a dramatic victory.
Delgado pitched a career-high eight innings but the Braves dropped a 4-0 decision to the Phillies Thursday afternoon at Turner Field. The Braves, who lost two in the three-game series, were held to just three hits. The offensive struggles came after Wednesday’s 19-hit attack in a 15-13 11-inning win.
“You can’t ask for anything more,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Delgado. “I guess the only thing you can ask for is a complete game shutout. But he did his part. He really did. I feel bad he goes out and gives you that performance [without a win].”
The Braves begin a three-game series against the Rockies on Friday, the first of a nine-game road trip over 10 days. In all, the Braves play 16 of their next 20 games away from home.
Delgado (2-3, 5.14) lost his third straight start. He allowed just two earned runs and six hits, including a Laynce Nix home run in the seventh inning, and struck out five in a 110 pitches. The strong outing came on the heels of losses to the Diamondbacks and Pirates, where Delgado allowed a combined nine earned runs, 11 hits and seven walks.
“I felt a little bit more comfortable today,” Delgado said.
After allowing a second-inning single to Nix, Delgado retired the next 17 batters before the home run to the Phillies first baseman.
Catcher David Ross said Delgado got ahead of batters, something he struggled with in his previous starts.
“He pounded the strike zone,” said Ross, who had one of the Braves’ three hits. “In his last start he was ball one, ball two. He was getting in hitter’s counts and then it’s tough because you have to be a little finer, you just can’t throw the ball down the middle. He pounded the strike zone. He got his breaking stuff over when he needed to. He threw good change-ups. He was aggressive.”
Livan Hernandez worked the final inning for the Braves, who were able to rest a weary bullpen from the previous night. He allowed a two-run homer to Shane Victorino for the final margin.
Joe Blanton (3-3, 2.83) went the distance for his third career shutout. The Braves never advanced a runner to second base.
“Any time you have an extra-inning ball game and a noon game the next day, you are probably not going to do the same thing,” said second baseman Dan Uggla, who had his seven-game hit streak snapped. “Blanton went out there and pitched as well as I’ve ever seen him pitch. Delgado battled but we couldn’t get anything going.”
Gonzalez said his hitters were not as patient at the plate as they have been in past series.
The Phillies scrapped a run across in the first inning as Jimmy Rollins and Juan Pierre led off the game with singles. Rollins scored on a Hunter Pence sacrifice fly. Victorino put the game out of reach with his late home run. He is hitting .423 (22-for-52) with two home runs, a triple, three doubles and nine RBIs in his last 13 games at Turner Field. He hit .357 (5-for-14) with four RBIs in the series.
The game lasted just 2 hours and two minutes after Wednesday’s epic last four hours.
Now, the Braves take to the road in one of their toughest stretches of the season. They play at the Rockies, Cubs and Cardinals over the next 10 days. After two series at home against the Reds and Marlins, they are back on the road against the Rays and Reds.
For Ross, the lengthy trip is better now than later.
“I think the main reason it’s good is because you are fresher right now,” Ross said. “You are fresh in April and May. If you had this kind of stretch in September you are so not looking forward to it. It’s nice to be on the road early rather than late.”