Despite outhitting the Diamondbacks handily, the Braves found themselves needing another late comeback on Tuesday night to come away with a win.
Trailing 4-3 heading into the eighth inning, Dansby Swanson led off with a first-pitch single up the middle for his second hit of the night. With one out, Ender Inciarte grounded a single through the right side to put runners on the corners. Needing just a fly ball to the outfield, Adonis Garcia whiffed on a 1-2 slider for what appeared to be a very costly strikeout. Freddie Freeman was pitched around to follow and walked to load the bases with two away for Matt Kemp. Kemp made the Diamondbacks pay with a good piece of hitting as he lined an outside fastball down the right field line. Mitch Haniger misplayed the ball and was handed an error, allowing it to get all the way to the wall as Kemp slid into third for a base-clearing double.
Atlanta would get one more insurance run in the ninth inning. Jace Peterson reached base on a fielder’s choice after Tyler Flowers singled to lead off. He stole second base and advanced to third as the throw trickled into center field. Swanson did his job and notched his first career RBI with a fly ball to center field that was deep enough to bring around Peterson, giving the Braves a 7-4 lead.
Mauricio Cabrera and Jim Johnson came in to slam the door in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the victory for Atlanta. Cabrera struck out the side in the eighth and Johnson struck out one in the ninth to close it. The Braves’ bullpen combined for 6.1 innings of work, allowing just three hits and striking out eight.
Rob Whalen was going along nicely until he completely lost his command in the third inning. The disastrous inning caused Whalen to be pulled from the start after just 2.2 innings of work. After the damage was done, Whalen’s line read four runs, two hits, four walks, one hit by pitch, and two strikeouts. His ERA now sits at 6.57 through five starts.
Archie Bradley didn’t fare too much better in his second career start against the Braves. He allowed seven hits and three walks in five innings, but seven strikeouts helped Bradley limit the damage as he escaped the start allowing just three runs.
The Braves’ bats picked up where they left off from on Monday night with a big opening inning against the right-handed Bradley. Garcia got it underway with a one-out single to right field, and Freeman followed up with a four-pitch walk. After Kemp struck out, Nick Markakis grounded a single to left field that brought around Garcia for a 1-0 lead. With runners on first and second, Flowers doubled to left field to bring around Freeman. Peterson then walked to load the bases with two outs for Swanson. Watching three straight strikes, Swanson struck out to end the inning with Atlanta leading, 2-0.
In the top of the third inning, the Braves threatened to extend their lead. Flowers was hit by a pitch with one out to start things. Peterson grounded one up the middle, and Swanson lined a single to right field to load the bases with one out. Whalen came up with a chance to help himself, but he struck out on three pitches — swinging at all of them. Ender Inciarte was the last chance, but he grounded out to third base to end the Atlanta threat.
The inability to get insurance runs came back to bite Atlanta in the bottom of the third inning. After retiring the first two batters in the inning, everything went poorly for Whalen — and much like it has been since he was called up, the main factor was lack of control. Whalen walked Jean Segura, Michael Bourn, and Paul Goldschmidt consecutively to load the bases. Yasmany Tomas singled to left field for Arizona’s first hit of the game, bringing Segura and Bourn around to tie the game at 2-apiece. Whalen then hit Wellington Castillo to load the bases again. Jake Lamb made him pay with a ground-rule double down the right field line to bring two more runs across. Relieving Whalen, Ryan Weber retired Haniger to end the inning after six consecutive Arizona batters reached base with two outs.
Atlanta got one run back immediately in the top of the fourth inning — once again started by Garcia. He drove a 3-1 fastball to center field for his 21st double of the year to lead off. Garcia advanced to third base on a Freeman ground out, and he was driven home by a deep fly ball to center field off the bat of Matt Kemp. After four innings, the Braves trailed 4-3.
Both lineups stalled in the middle innings until Arizona got a golden opportunity in the bottom of the seventh inning thanks to spotty defense from a Brave. Chris Owings led off with what appeared to be a routine single to left center field, but Kemp took a bad route and was unable to cut the ball off before it rolled all the way to the wall. Owings advanced to third for a triple on the play, which was just the third Arizona hit in the game thanks to some great relief work from Weber and Chaz Roe. With Jose Ramirez on the mound facing a runner on third with no outs, he struck out Phil Gosselin, Segura, and Goldschmidt to escape the trouble.
Garcia led the Braves with a 3-for-5 night and two runs scored. Kemp, Flowers, and Swanson all notched multi-hit games, with Kemp leading the team with 3 RBI’s. Freeman walked twice, but an 0-for-3 night ended his 11-game hitting streak.
The rubber match of the series will be played on Wednesday night with Julio Teheran and Zack Grienke facing off at 9:40 P.M.