The Phillies and Mets had both won their games today and it looked as though the Braves had their's in hand for the sweep. It was not to be though as the Braves dropped not only a four-run lead in the eighth, but the game in extras to drop to 4.5 back of the Mets and two back in the Wild Card chase. Jo-Jo Reyes again hit hard and made a very good case for himself to be sent back to Richmond. The left-hander followed the same pattern, leaving about 90% of his pitches up in the zone, and paid for it. In only three five runs --four earned-- on four hits, four walks, and two more long balls to bring his ERA up to 8.72 for the year. There has got to be a move made right now because running Reyes out there every fifth day is forfeiting almost all of those games. The bullpen came in and looked to have the Astros' offense shut down. Peter Moylan, Tyler Yates, and Octavio Dotel struck out a combined five in four innings of work. Rafael Soriano came in to pitch the eighth and once again struggled. We can't really lay all the blame for this blown save on Soriano, who was charged with three of the four runs he allowed. After a Carlos Lee single, Ty Wigginton hit a ball that was misplayed by Edgar Renteria, which not only took away an easy double play, but caused a sprained ankle for Renteria as he rolled it a little funny. After Chipper moved over to short and they brought Harris in to play third (a puzzling move to say the least as Harris has experience at short but none at third) he had an error that allowed Jason Lane to reach, loading up the bases with no outs. We all know what happens next as Mike Lamb unloads for a pinch-hit grand slam over the center field wall. Both Oscar Villarreal and Ron Mahay pitched about as well as you could expect given the circumstances but it was not enough to get the win. You almost wish that this would have been a blowout so that the Braves could have taken a normal nine-inning loss instead of using every pitcher in the pen.
The Braves offense was good but not good enough. Andruw got the scoring started with a second inning home run and finished with two hits in seven tries on the day. He is slowly but surely bringing his average up, which is key if the Braves want to make a playoff run. The Braves found themselves in a 5-1 hole very early and fought all the way back to take Jo-Jo Reyes off the hook, the key blow being Mark Teixeira's game-tying homer; the second in his two games as a Brave. No one really had a standout game but the lineup was solid up and down with contributions coming from just about everyone. Willie Harris had an important two-run triple and Jeff Francoeur added a two-run double. The offense really played a defensive game in the extra frames and just could not go out and get a run to win it despite many chances. After the Astros took a two-run lead, Matt Diaz gave the Braves another chance as he delivered a game-tying two-run home run off Houston closer Brad Lidge. All in all though, the Braves got four leadoff men on in the five extra innings they played and failed to take a lead and win.
This was a game riddled by mistakes. Defensive miscues at second, third, and two at short along with poor pitching performances by both Jo-Jo Reyes and Rafael Soriano are what let the Braves down in the final game of the series. Edgar Renteria, Jeff Francoeur, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, and Willie Harris all experience either injuries or were showing signs of discomfort on the field. This is good timing for the Braves though. With the top of the rotation coming up in the series that starts tomorrow at 7:35 ET against the Rockies, the Braves can expect at least seven innings out of the starter for the next two games.