video thumbnail

SEA@ATL: Gattis connects for three-run shot to right

ATLANTA -- Gavin Floyd was seemingly due to eventually encounter one of these frustrating post-Tommy John surgery starts. But given the way their pitching staff performed during most of this season's first two months, it was hard to imagine the Braves were capable of blowing leads of at least four runs twice in a span of three home games.

But the Braves found themselves dealing with this fact as they squandered a four-run first inning on the way to a 7-5 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday night. Floyd labored into the sixth inning and John Buck sunk Alex Wood with a decisive two-run home run in the seventh.

"Ultimately, you can't pay attention [to the lead] as a starting pitcher," Floyd said. "You've got to go out there and make pitches and get these guys out. A team can come back like that at any moment. I felt like I stayed in there and tried to make good pitches. That's just the way the game went."

As the game progressed, it felt much like the Memorial Day afternoon contest, during which the Braves squandered a five-run fifth-inning lead against the Red Sox and never recovered while losing the first of four straight to the defending world champions.

After getting swept in the four-game, home-and-home series against Boston, the Braves seemingly righted themselves when they went to Miami this past weekend and regained sole possession of first place in National League East with a three-game sweep of the second-place Marlins.

But all of the momentum coming out of Miami evaporated as Floyd surrendered 10 hits and five runs -- three earned -- over five innings. Before Tuesday, Floyd had allowed two earned runs or less in four of the five starts he had made since returning from surgery.

"I think when you make 32-35 starts a year, you're going to have a bad one," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "This was one of those nights."

Floyd's return influenced the decision to harness Wood's workload by sending him to the bullpen during the early part of May. While the young southpaw has never complained about being used as a reliever, he certainly showed frustration as he stared into his locker for nearly 20 minutes after Tuesday's game and then declined to talk to reporters.

Wood's disgust could have also been influenced by Dustin Ackley's two-out infield single in the decisive seventh inning. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman never got a handle on Ackley's chopper that died in the dirt to the left of the first-base bag. This extended the inning for Buck, who promptly lined a 2-1 changeup over the right-center-field wall. The game-winning shot was the former Mets catcher's first home run in a span of 75 at-bats dating back to Aug. 15.

Wood warmed up in the bullpen twice through the first five innings, but did not enter until the seventh inning.

"I've faced Wood a couple times, being in this division," Buck said. "I knew he had a good changeup and liked to throw me in. First pitch I was looking changeup and he threw a good one I don't think I could have hit. Then he came at me with a hard fastball and I just said, alright, I had a feeling he might try to come with another changeup so I looked for it up and ran into it."

Ackley's fortune-filled chopper led to the game's final two runs. The Braves also paid the price for Chris Johnson's throwing error, which led to a pair of unearned runs in the second inning.

"That's four runs right there," Gonzalez said. "We let them hang around, and they came back and got some big hits. You've got to give them a little credit for getting the big hits."

The Braves allowed less than four runs in 19 of their first 28 home games this year. But they have now surrendered at least six runs in each of their past three games at Turner Field.

"This is a freak three-game stretch," Braves catcher Evan Gattis said. "I can't put my finger on it and find a cause."

It appeared the Braves were going to cruise when four of their first five hitters recorded a hit a four-run first inning that was capped by Gattis' 12th home run -- an opposite-field, three-run shot. B.J. Upton added to Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez's early troubles when he drilled a two-out solo homer over the left-center-field wall in the second inning.

Upton's fifth homer of the season, his third dating back to May 12, provided Floyd some of the comfort he lost after Johnson airmailed first base on Buck's one-out grounder in the top half of the inning. Brad Miller then began his two-hit night with an RBI single. James Jones later scored Miller with a two-out single to right.

Floyd proved fortunate to escape the third inning unscathed after a Robinson Cano double put runners at second and third with none out. But the Mariners struck the ball hard throughout that inning and continued their assault during their game-tying, three-run fourth.

Instead of taking advantage of facing the bottom of the lineup in the fourth, Floyd allowed a leadoff single to Buck, walked Miller, who entered the game hitting .164, and surrendered a three-run home run to pinch-hitter Stefen Romero, who had batted .196 through his previous 112 career at-bats.

"Looking back, you can probably execute a couple of pitches better, especially the pinch-hitter," Floyd said. "I think that is the one I'd like to take back. I felt like I was pretty consistent and was able to attack like I wanted."

Meanwhile, after recording eight hits through Ramirez's three innings, the Braves totaled just two more hits over the next six innings against Seattle's bullpen.

"We swung the bats," Gonzalez said. "We just let them stay in the game and they beat us."

MLB.com Comments