06/17/09 1:50 AM ET
Weather plays tricks on Jurrjens in loss
Right-hander forced to leave early after pair of rain delays
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Less than three weeks ago, Braves manager Bobby Cox was campaigning for Jurrjens to gain his first All-Star selection. Now Cox finds himself wondering when good fortune will once again find the 23-year-old right-hander, who has essentially not been having it while encountering the first three-game losing streak of his young career.
Limited to two innings because of a lengthy rain delay at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night, Jurrjens could do little to prevent the Braves from prolonging their recent woes with a 7-2 loss to a Reds club that has habitually frustrated them over the course of the past three seasons.
"Right now I'm not having luck on my side," said Jurrjens, who has seen the Braves score a total of four runs while he's lost his past three starts.
While losing for the fifth time in their past six games, the Braves squandered a 12-hit attack, stranded nine runners and never erased the lead the Reds gained with Laynce Nix's first-inning groundout against Jurrjens, who was charged with just the one run and two hits during a 38-pitch, two-inning effort.
"When you get 12 hits, you've got to win a ballgame," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, whose team has lost eight of the past 10 games played at Great American Ball Park. "We did a decent job of piecing it together. It just didn't hold up. That's a lot of hits."
After a one-hour, 54-minute rain delay halted play in the top of the third inning, the Reds lost the services of Aaron Harang and the Braves were forced to replace Jurrjens with Jeff Bennett, who managed to eat four innings, but allowed a pair of runs along the way.
With consecutive two-out doubles in the third inning, Brandon Phillips and Laynce Nix allowed the Reds to gain a two-run advantage. Two innings later this same duo produced consecutive one-out singles that allowed Ramon Hernandez to deliver an RBI groundout that proved to be decisive.
"We didn't swing it particularly good with runners in scoring position," Chipper Jones said. "But when you get 12 hits, you need to score more than two runs. We had a couple opportunities to get back in it, tie the game, or break the game open and we didn't do it."
With a first-inning single Jones snapped an 0-for-21 skid and propelled himself toward a three-hit performance that included a one-out, sixth-inning single that put him in position to score his team's first run.
After allowing consecutive singles to Jones, Brian McCann and Garret Anderson in the sixth, Nick Masset found the bases loaded and just one out. But the right-handed reliever escaped the jam by getting Jeff Francoeur to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Francoeur entered the game with three hits in seven at-bats with the bases loaded. But the 25-year-old right fielder is now hitting .200 (6-for-30) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"We left too many on," Cox said. "We need to start clutching it in a little better."
After Jones provided an eighth-inning leadoff double, Francoeur delivered a two-out RBI single that at least erased the sting created by the fact that he'd left five runners stranded in his three previous at-bats. More importantly, his single pulled the Braves within one run and provided them hope until the Reds responded with four runs during the bottom half of the inning against Mike Gonzalez.
Despite allowing each of the first three batters he faced to reach safely, Gonzalez nearly limited the eighth-inning damage to one run. But Alex Gonzalez took advantage of the situation with a two-out, two-run double that essentially put the game out of reach and forced Jurrjens to face the fact that his five wins now match his loss total.
"It's unbelievable that a pitcher can get a loss when he gives up just one run," Cox said. "I don't count it as a loss for him. That's for sure."
Jurrjens, who has seen the Braves total four runs during the past three games that he's started, has suffered two of his five losses during games that he's been limited to two innings because of lengthy rain delays have limited him to just two innings. During his May 2 start against the Astros, he allowed one run in two innings and watched helplessly as his team suffered a 5-1 loss.
"He's just running into some tough luck," Jones said. "There's no reason for us to not at least get that game tied at some point and get him off the hook. It's a tough-luck loss and we feel for him. But we're trying for him and battling. It's just not happening for us."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.