The Atlanta Braves showed that they don't quit on games that seem out of reach Monday in the series opener with the San Diego Padres. Trailing by six runs at Petco Park, the Braves scored one in the eighth inning and four in the ninth but fell just short in a 7-6 loss.
Jason Heyward extended his hitting streak to eight games in the eighth with a solo homer off Jason Marquis, who was strong in his own right. Heyward also brought the Braves within one run in the ninth with a second solo homer off Dale Thayer.
"I'm really, really proud of this team," Heyward said on braves.com. "We've got a really good team. We didn't quit. We don't quit. We have a lot of fun, and we pride ourselves on that. That's an example of it right there."
Evan Gattis also got in the act in the ninth as a pinch-hitter. Tim Stauffer started his appearance by allowing Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson to single. Two batters later, Gattis blasted an enormous three-run homer to left. After Heyward's homer cut the Padres' lead to one, Thayer struck out Justin Upton to end the game.
The legend of Gattis continues to grow. He's now 6-for-8 with a double, four home runs and 11 RBIs as a pinch-hitter.
"I don't know how or why it's working out that way, but it is," Gattis said.
Had Cory Gearrin not struggled with his control in the seventh by giving up two runs, the Braves would have ended up with the lead, but manager Fredi Gonzalez pointed out how good the Braves bullpen has been all year.
"We've been so spoiled with our bullpen holding the other team there," Gonzalez said. "Even when we're down or when we're ahead, you hold them. We didn't today. We gave up two runs."
Julio Teheran and his struggles early really put the Braves in a hole. Though he didn't walk anyone, he still allowed five runs and two homers over six innings. Also, for each of Teheran's last three starts in which he has given up three or more runs, Brian McCann has been behind the plate.
In fairness, Teheran could have used some help from his defense when B.J. Upton misplayed a flyball from Alexi Amarista in the first inning, resulting in a triple. Chase Headley's groundout drove in Amarista for the first run of the game. Logan Forsythe then homered in his first at-bat of the year to put the Padres up 2-0.
The real damage came via a three-run homer off the bat of Will Venable in the fourth inning.
Teheran would help himself in the fifth inning, however. After Chris Johnson walked and B.J. Upton singled with one out, Marquis uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position. Teheran's groundout drove in the first Braves run and the only run they'd score off Marquis until the eighth.
Overall, Marquis had a strange line in his winning effort. He only gave up two runs in his 7 2/3 innings, but he also walked five, struggling with his control most of the game.
Regardless, the struggling pieces of the Braves offense showed more signs of life. Justin and B.J. Upton each had a single and a double, Dan Uggla singled and walked, and Heyward uncorked his two homers.
Heyward is now hitting 412 (14-for-34) with three home runs during his eight-game hitting streak. His average has ballooned from .142 to .207.
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