Braves' hopes unravel in seventh inning

Braves' hopes unravel in seventh inning

CINCINNATI -- Chipper Jones wasn't willing to allow Jair Jurrjens to accept the blame for what transpired during a seventh inning that Melky Cabrera will never be able to forget.

An errant throw that Cabrera essentially hurled sideways only added to the frustrations that Jurrjens experienced while allowing the Reds to construct a four-run seventh inning that provided them a 5-2 win over the Braves on Saturday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

"I don't put that on J.J.," Jones said. "We had a chance. We lost that game in the first and third innings. We had the bases loaded with one out [in the first] and we had first and third and one out [in the third] and we didn't take advantage. We had a chance to ice this game and we didn't take advantage. In this ballpark, against this club, you've got to bury them when you have the opportunity, and we didn't."

Having claimed last at-bat victories during each of the previous three games played against the Reds this year, the Braves were in position to claim another win in less-dramatic fashion until Ryan Hanigan managed to erase the damage created by the throwing error he committed in Atlanta's two-run first inning.

Hanigan's decisive two-out, seventh-inning double to the left-center gap broke a 2-2 tie, accounted for the game's final three runs and set the stage for Cabrera to be immortalized in the blooper world. After grabbing the double after it caromed off the outfield wall, the Braves' center fielder made a throw that went about 50 feet to his left.

"When he threw it, it just slipped out of his hand," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, whose club has won just three of its first eight games on this nine-game road trip.

As Cabrera raced to get the ball, Hanigan raced around the bases and was greeted at the plate by two Reds who had scored in front of him.

"It's about time we got a break," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That was a big break. Really that's the only way Hanigan is going to get a Little League inside-the-park home run."

While embarrassing, Cabrera's throw may have simply allowed the Reds to add an insurance run during this decisive seventh inning that ended Jurrjens' dominant run. The 24-year-old right-hander exited the sixth inning having retired 16 of the previous 17 batters that he faced.

Scott Rolen began the seventh-inning rally with a one-out double that accounted for his club's first hit since he had hit a solo homer with two outs in the fourth inning. Jonny Gomes followed with a single to put runners at the corners and set the stage for Jay Bruce to deliver a game-tying single through the right side of the infield.

After striking out Drew Stubbs to account for the second out, Jurrjens hung a changeup to Hanigan and then had to watch as his once promising outing concluded with Cabrera chasing down his own throw.

"I was [upset] already from hanging that pitch," Jurrjens said. "I didn't really care what happened after that."

Hanigan's double allowed him to make up for the fact that he'd helped the Braves gain a two-run first-inning lead by fielding Jason Heyward's swinging bunt and then making an errant throw that sailed down the right-field line. The miscue scored Omar Infante, who had started the game with a double, and allowed Heyward to move into position to eventually score on a bases-loaded walk issued by Bronson Arroyo.

With the bases still loaded and one out, Arroyo ended the first inning by getting Alex Gonzalez to ground into a double play. Gonzalez had missed the previous two games while battling gastritis and he was still feeling somewhat weak Saturday.

Arroyo, who allowed just the two runs in his seven-inning effort, allowed Brian McCann to utilize one of his three singles to put runners at first and second with one out in the third inning. Troy Glaus, who has hit .160 in his past 30 games, killed the momentum with a strikeout and Eric Hinske ended the scoring threat by flying out to center field.

"[Arroyo] threw me a four-seamer down the middle of the plate in the first inning, and from then on, he had really, really good stuff," Jones said. He got a bunch of ground balls and some timely double plays. He kept his team around long enough for them to come back and get the win."

After suffering his first loss in the five starts he's made since returning from the disabled list, Jurrjens recognized that he could have been given more offensive support. But he was more upset about the fastball he left up to Rolen in the seventh and the decisive changeup that Hanigan used to change the game's complexion.

"That's baseball," Jurrjens said. "You get away with some mistakes and you don't some other times. You get hurt by some good pitches. You need to have luck on your side."

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