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Bullpen's struggles continue

Bullpen's struggles continue in Game 3

HOUSTON -- A frustrated Braves bullpen simply can't catch a break.

More bad bounces and misfortune befell Atlanta's relievers on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros broke open a one-run game with four runs in the seventh inning and rolled to a 7-3 victory that pushes the Braves to the brink of elimination in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

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Primary setup man Chris Reitsma is clearly flabbergasted by the bullpen's struggles.

"Things aren't really falling my way," said Reitsma, who opened the seventh by allowing hits to the only two batters he faced. "I'm just trying to get the ball rolling here. To say the least, it's very frustrating. It's frustrating as a whole for our bullpen. We are definitely a lot better than what we are showing.

"As a whole, we should take responsibility for what happened tonight. It's not an easy thing to do, but we have to forget about it. In 12 hours, we will be playing again. We have to go back and sleep on it, and come out ready to go tomorrow."

With a quick turnaround, the Braves don't have much time to mull over their troubles.

The first pitch for Game 4 is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.

In the critical seventh inning, four Braves relievers combined to give up four runs on five hits, with an intentional walk mixed in.

Craig Biggio started the rally with a double off Reitsma, who fell behind in the count 2-0 before getting a called strike. On the fourth pitch in the sequence, Biggio lined his third double of the night.

Speedy Willy Taveras then chopped an infield single, and left-hander John Foster was called upon to face switch-hitter Lance Berkman, who slapped an RBI single to left.

Rookie Joey Devine faced three batters, but couldn't record an out, as the first six Houston batters reached. Morgan Ensberg had an RBI double off Foster, and after Mike Lamb was intentionally walked Jason Lane had a run-scoring single.

Jim Brower finally closed the door, but not before Adam Everett drove in the fourth run with a sacrifice fly.

"Biggio was on everything," Reitsma said. "I fell behind him a little bit and I had to come at him with a fastball there. It wasn't too bad of a pitch, he just hit the ball well. Taveras came up and hit that ball off the plate and over my head. It was just one of those things where it's a little frustrating right now."

Reitsma has been the steadiest of the setup relievers, but he's had his struggles in the NLDS. In three games, he's given up six runs in 1 1/3 innings.

"When you are in the playoffs, you want to keep everything close," Reitsma said. "We just haven't been able to do that. We're doing everything we can. It's just been extremely frustrating. It's time to catch a break and get the ball rolling in our direction."

With so many rookies on the squad, the Braves bullpen has undergone a facelift most of the season.

"There are not too many bullpens around the league that stay the same all year round," Reitsma said. "But this one has definitely been through extremes. [Manager Bobby Cox] has been great with trying to build confidence with us, establishing roles and making those roles clear whenever we get a new player. I don't really attribute that to any of the troubles we have, to be honest with you. It's one of those things where we need to catch a break. We need to get some good luck going around here."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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