08/25/09 11:30 PM ET
Braves fall in 12th, despite late heroics
LaRoche's two-out RBI single in ninth provides lone run
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
For eight innings at Turner Field on Tuesday night, the Braves unsuccessfully attempted to erase the damage created by Adrian Gonzalez's third-inning solo homer.
Then, after being provided new life courtesy of Adam LaRoche's RBI single with two outs in the ninth, they found themselves despaired by the two-out, David Eckstein double that proved decisive for the Padres in their 2-1, 12-inning victory.
"It was a night of missed opportunities," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We couldn't have played a better game. We couldn't have pitched any better. We just couldn't get the hits when they meant something."
When LaRoche managed to place the game-tying single just in front of the glove of diving right fielder Will Venable, he also handed All-Star closer Heath Bell just his third blown save in 33 opportunities.
Three innings later, Eckstein took advantage of Kris Medlen's first-pitch fastball and placed it in the sizable gap that separated Garret Anderson and Omar Infante in left-center field. The two-out single provided the Padres just their 20th road victory and forced the Braves to face the reality that they've now lost the opener of each of their past eight three-game series.
"That's a tough one to lose tonight, as good as the pitching was," said Cox, whose club was unable to take advantage of a Phillies loss and reduce the seven-game deficit in the National League East standings.
Medlen, who had allowed just two earned runs in the previous 19 1/3 innings he'd completed since the All-Star break, allowed Nick Hundley to deliver his first pitch of the 12th inning into the left-center-field gap for a leadoff double. Four batters later, Hundley raced from second base to score on Eckstein's game-winner.
"I was just trying to jump ahead and Eckstein is a contact guy," Medlen said.
While the Braves could be encouraged by the fact that they have managed to win four of the past five series, despite dropping the series opener in each, Jurrjens wasn't willing to look for the positives. Instead, he was visibly bothered by the fact that many scoring opportunities were wasted after Latos exited after seven scoreless innings.
"The frustrating thing about today was how good we played," Jurrjens said. "The whole game was a great game. Anytime you lose a game like this, especially against a team that's in the bottom of their division, it really [stinks]."
After issuing a pair of walks that allowed the Padres to load the bases with just one out in the first inning, Jurrjens took a more aggressive approach, which proved to be fruitful until Gonzalez directed his first-pitch fastball over the left-field wall.
The two-out, third-inning shot marked the fourth homer that Jurrjens has allowed in his past five starts. It was also the 12th homer he's surrendered this season, one more than the total he allowed during last year's rookie season.
"He pitched great," Cox said. "He gave up an opposite-field homer to a guy that's very strong. Other than that, there was almost nothing hit hard off of him."
Making just his eighth career start, Latos actually trumped Jurrjens' effort. The 21-year-old right-hander proved perfect until Anderson delivered a one-out fifth-inning single and then managed to allow just one more hit -- Matt Diaz's sixth-inning leadoff single -- during his seven impressive innings.
"We haven't seen the Braves a whole lot this year, but they take some big swings," said Padres manager Bud Black, who has seen two of his team's wins against the Braves this year come with Latos on the mound.
After allowing the Braves to load the bases with just one out in the eighth inning, Luke Gregerson escaped that threat with a strikeout of Martin Prado, who went hitless in six at-bats while playing his first entire game for the first time since Aug. 14. One day before that, he started dealing with dizziness and discomfort caused by exertional headaches.
Prado also grounded out with Diaz on second base to end the sixth inning. While the second baseman was happy to report that he felt strong, he was further discouraged by the fact that he'd also grounded out just before the Braves once again loaded the bases in the 10th, an inning that ended with Joe Thatcher striking out Anderson.
The Braves, who were set down in order during the final two innings, combined to go 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position during the eighth, ninth and 10th innings.
"We lost a game we needed to win, especially against a team like this," Jurrjens said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.