Milwaukee – So much for building on what the Braves got going in New York. Turns out their 11-run outburst Saturday was just a hiatus from what’s been ailing them on offense.
The Braves scored only one run in the first two games against the Brewers and are in danger of getting swept in a three-game series at Miller Park after a 5-0 loss on Tuesday night.
The Braves have scored two or fewer runs in nine of their past 15 games.
Tim Hudson had another good outing but wasn’t perfect, which the Braves offense seems to have been demanding of its pitchers of late. He gave up a solo home run to Rickie Weeks in the first inning and nothing else until the seventh. But the way things have been going with the Braves offense, it might have spelled his doom either way.
The bottom fell out in the seventh inning for the second straight night. Monday’s catalyst was a Jonny Venters’ throwing error. On Tuesday it was a couple of close plays at first base that went against the Braves.
Andrelton Simmons couldn’t cleanly field a hard-hit Aramis Ramirez grounder but nearly (and might have) got him at first base but he was called safe. Then after Hudson grazed Carlos Gomez with a pitch to load the bases, Jean Segura beat out a double play to score the first of three runs in the inning.
“We really didn’t have a whole lot of luck go our way that inning,” Hudson said. “A couple hits that probably could have been outs, a couple close calls that probably could have gone our way, but it’s a frustrating game. I felt like I had one of my better sinkers going that I’ve had in a while.”
Hudson, who had only 80 pitches coming into the seventh, gave up four hits in the inning but only Norichka Aoki’s double on his last pitch of the night was hit especially hard.
The Braves, meanwhile, hit four balls hard to the warning track for outs in the sixth and seventh innings. Lyle Overbay hit a rope to right field with a runner on in the seventh inning but watched Aoki leap to rob him.
“They had some bleeders that kind of fell and timely hitting, where it seemed like we hit the ball hard and nothing to show for it,” Overbay said.
One residual effect the Braves might not have considered from their collapse last September was that it would give teams hope in 2012 that they could do what St. Louis did – coming from 8 ½ games back to claim a wild card spot.
Both the Brewers and Phillies are making a charge, with the Brewers winning 17 of their past 22 to move to .500 for the first time since April 24. The Phillies have won six in a row and 10 of 12. Both were within 4 ½ games of the Cardinals before their game in San Diego on Tuesday night. The Braves’ wild card lead over St. Louis was down to five games.
The Braves managed only four hits – all singles – in 6 2/3 innings against Marco Estrada, a pitcher they’d scored 11 runs in 11 1/3 innings against in two starts last season.
Simmons collected singles in each of his first two at-bats for his first two hits in his second game back from the disabled list. But he and the Braves had no more than one baserunner on in any inning.
“Well we swung the bats better than what the scoreboard showed at the end,” said Chipper Jones, who was 1-for-3 with a walk and one of those outs to the warning track. “I thought we put some good at-bats up. We made some solid contact. Their right fielder seems to be standing in front of everything we hit out there….
“But they’re playing well right now. We’ve just got to try to salvage the series and salvage a winning road trip.”