ATLANTA -- Randall Delgado was not as impressive as he was last week, when Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen praised him. But had the Braves' offense provided some assistance on Monday night, Delgado might have survived his first matchup against an intimidating Yankees lineup.
An overeager Delgado lacked the command he had displayed during his previous start and the Braves found far too much misfortune while battling Ivan Nova in a 3-0 loss to the Yankees.
"That's baseball," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "You're going to play games like this. You're going to play a lot of games like this over 162 games, where you hit some balls good and they get caught."
Considering that Delgado issued a career-high six walks and allowed the Yankees to produce at least two baserunners in each of the innings he pitched, the Braves were fortunate that they never faced a deficit greater than three runs. But their attempts to mount a comeback were thwarted by Nova, who scattered five singles over seven great innings.
The Braves grounded into two double plays, and if not for Nova's fourth-inning balk, they would not have advanced a baserunner past first base. They have been held scoreless since gaining a 4-0 lead in the third inning of Sunday's loss to the Blue Jays.
"They made some defensive plays, and we hit some balls hard right at people," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's just the way it goes today."
McCann certainly had reason to be frustrated after nearly hitting a home run in each of his first two at-bats. Curtis Granderson caught McCann's first-inning drive along the center-field wall, and Nick Swisher jumped to the top of the right-field wall to rob the catcher of what might have been a two-run home run in the fourth. Andrelton Simmons also lined into a double play after Jason Heyward began the third inning with a single.
It was that kind of night for the Braves, as they suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since taking an eighth straight loss on May 28.
"Swish made a tremendous play," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The double play turned by Nova, that was a rocket. Our defense was key tonight. We made a lot of terrific plays."
Delgado limited the damage to just three runs while surrendering five hits, needing 110 pitches to complete five innings. Most of the 22-year-old right-hander's struggles occurred in the third inning, when he issued three of his six walks and allowed a hit while managing to allow just one run.
The lone third-inning run came after Delgado worked to an 0-2 count against Swisher with two outs. But just when it seemed like he might escape unscathed, Delgado uncorked a wild pitch that rolled far enough along the grass to the right of the plate to allow Alex Rodriguez to score uncontested.
"Sometimes I gave them too much credit with the strike zone," Delgado said. "I was trying to be perfect on the corner, and I think that was the problem."
After Delgado limited the Marlins to two hits in 6 1/3 innings on Wednesday, Guillen said the young pitcher "may have had the best stuff we've seen."
Unfortunately for the Braves on Monday, Delgado wasn't the same pitcher who had proven dominant in Miami last week. Rodriguez delivered a two-out double in the first and scored when Robinson Cano followed by hitting a curveball to center for a single. Raul Ibanez then opened the second by hitting a hanging curveball over the right-field wall.
"First time facing the New York Yankees, and 40,000-plus [fans] in the stands, I think he got himself a little amped up for today's game -- and something he can learn from," Gonzalez said. "In all honesty, he made some pitches. They got the bases loaded twice, and he got out of it just giving up one run. That's a good stepping-stone."
After being hurt by two of the three curveballs he threw in the first two innings, Delgado primarily threw fastballs and changeups, the two pitches with which he is still most comfortable. His highest walk totals have been compiled in his two Interleague starts this year. Delgado issued five walks in four innings against the Rays on May 19.
"He battled," McCann said. "He didn't have his best stuff today. He had a hard time getting his curveball and changeup where he needed it to be. He never quit, and he made pitches when he needed to. It wasn't his best, but he didn't have his best stuff."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.