For the second consecutive evening, the Milwaukee Brewers posted a single run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves. For the second consecutive evening, it wasn't enough, as the Braves secured back-to-back victories at Miller Park, with Tuesday's win coming by a final of 4-3.
Braves starter Manny Banuelos ran into a touch of trouble early in the evening, as the young left-hander needed 29 pitches to escape an adventurous opening frame. Banuelos struggled with what appeared to be a blister throughout the inning, and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy blasted a solo home run to put the Braves in a 1-0 hole.
However, Banuelos picked up his effort considerably over the rest of his outing, and that came in handy. The youngster, making his second MLB start, allowed only three hits over his final 4.1 innings, and while he ran into some trouble in the sixth, Banuelos was able to escape while giving up only the Lucroy home run as far as literal damage was concerned.
Fortunately, the aforementioned hiccup in the sixth inning was quickly erased by the bullpen, as Arodys Vizcaino wiggled off the hook. Vizcaino made his first appearance of the 2015 season after a lengthy suspension, and he needed only a handful of pitches to induce an inning-ending double play to preserve Banuelos' ability to "win" the game.
From there, it was simply a matter of holding on for the Braves. The offensive damage had been done, and the bats were led by A.J. PIerzynski. The veteran backstop evened the game with a home run in his first at-bat, and he would later add an RBI single in the fourth on the way to a 3-4 evening. Pierzynski continued a previously established hot streak as well, and all told, he is now 10-13 in the last three contests.
Outside of Pierzynski, the offense did just enough to preserve the win. Cameron Maybin came up with a clutch triple to right field in the fifth that gave the Braves some breathing room with a 3-1 lead, and later, Nick Markakis pushed across an insurance run (that ultimately came in handy) with an RBI single in the seventh. Pierzynski was unquestionably the star for the third straight night, but he didn't act alone, and that was crucial.
The bullpen, unfortunately, wasn't flawless in this game, and that added a bit to the tension in the late innings. Vizcaino's debut worked out quite well, but Mike Foltynewicz didn't have the same fate in his return from the minors, allowing a run (on 2 hits and a walk) in less than one inning of work. Later, David Aardsma allowed a solo home run from Adam Lind in the eighth inning that brought Milwaukee within the 4-3 final score, but Jason Grilli put things away in short order in the ninth, needing only 13 pitches to send the Brewers home with a loss.
Using six pitchers is, of course, a less than desirable path to run prevention, but Fredi Gonzalez and company managed to execute the strategy on the way to a second straight win. Manny Banuelos continues to impress, A.J. Pierzynski stays red hot and the Braves have reached the .500 mark at 42-42. Tuesday was a good day.