Game 1: Cardinals 6, Braves 2
The return of Paul Maholm to the starting rotation didn’t go as well as the Braves might have hoped. The Braves actually took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the 5th inning via a Justin Upton 2-run bomb, but that is when the wheels fell off for Maholm. The damage started when Maholm inexplicably walked the Cards #8 hitter, Pete Kozma. After he was sacrificed to second by the pitcher, Maholm gave up 3 consecutive doubles with 2 outs, and after the smoke cleared, the Braves were down 4-2 and that was the ball game. Overall, Maholm pitched 5.1 innings giving up 5 hits, 4 earned runs, walked 3 and struck out 4. Elliot Johnson made his Braves debut, starting at 2nd base and collecting 2 hits. The Braves had baserunners, but the Cards turned 2 big double plays and pitched around the others. Brian McCann, Andrelton Simmons and the aforementioned Johnson all had 2 hits for the Braves.
Game 2: Cardinals 3, Braves 1
Adam Wainwright basically shut down the Atlanta offense in the second game of the series. Kris Medlen pitched really well for the most part, matching Wainwright for most of the game, but ran into some trouble in the 7th and was removed from the game, and wasn’t too happy about it. Here is what Meds had to say after being removed after only 78 pitches:
“I thought I was cruising pretty good,” Medlen said. “I hadn’t had to battle yet but I wasn’t given the opportunity, so I guess I’m voicing the fact that I didn’t appreciate that.”
Another controversial umpiring decision happened when Justin Upton was ejected from the game in the 6th inning after he grounded out and yelled at himself. The ump assumed he was yelling at him and promptly tossed Upton before he even made it to first base. It was honestly a horrible decision by the umpire. That is something you just leave alone, not try to inject yourself into a part of the game that has nothing to do with you. Speaking of Uptons, BJ broke his 25 at-bat hitless streak with a single in the second. Andrelton Simmons made a RIDICULOUS sliding catch in foul territory in the 2nd inning. We get something awesome from him almost every day. Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson both collected 2 hits, but the night belonged to Wainwright, who went the distance, didn’t walk anyone, and struck out 9.
Game 3: Cardinals 6, Braves 2
The Braves offense struggled for the third straight game as Cards starter Shelby Miller held them to only 3 hits over 7 innings of work to lead the Cards to their 3rd straight victory over the Braves. Freddie Freeman hit a home run off of Miller in the 1st and the Braves didn’t do anything else until the 9th. In the 9th, the Braves, trailing 6-1, tried to mount a come back as Gerald Laird doubled home a run to make it a 6-2 game, but Elliot Johnson struck-out with runners on 2nd and 3rd to end the game. Julio Teheran pitched well, but in my opinion, Fredi Gonzalez left him in too long. Teheran was already over 100 pitches when Gonzalez left him in to start the 7th. He promptly gave up 2 straight hits before being pulled. David Carpenter allowed those two guys plus one of his own to score and basically put the game out of reach. In his first 6 innings, Teheran only allowed 3 hits, including 2 solo homers and struck out 8. He was uncharacteristically wild, though, walking a season high 5 people. Andrelton Simmons had 2 hits and was the only Brave to have a multi hit game.
Game 4: Braves 5, Cardinals 2
Jordan Schafer was 0 for the series coming into the game, but tripled to lead off the 1st and doubled in a run in the second to finally provide a spark in the lead-off spot for the Braves since the Heyward injury. Mike Minor pitched brilliantly, going 7 strong innings to hold the Cardinals offense at bay and give the Braves “Sunday lineup” a chance to win. The Braves also got run-scoring hits from Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish, yes, you read that correctly, and a solo home run from Anderlton Simmons, to finally break through against the Cardinals pitching and salvage the final game of the 4 game series. It was a wacky game for the Braves as the best two hitters in the lineup, Freeman and Justin Upton were the only ones NOT to get a hit. Joey Terdoslavich got a start in left-field and responded with a 2 hit game, and it would be nice to see Joey T get some more playing time out there. Craig Kimbrel saw his first action of the series with a rare 4 out save. I guess, since he didn’t pitch the previous 3 games and had the off day on Monday, they figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to stretch him for the extra out.
With the win on Sunday, the Braves took the season series against the Cardinals 4 games to 3. The Braves still own the best record in baseball, although their lead shrunk a bit over the weekend. They are 2 games ahead of Pittsburgh, St. Louis and the Dodgers for the best record in the NL, and 1 game better than the Tigers for the best record overall. The Braves are 13 games ahead of the Nationals in the East. Not that it really matters since that race is over, but I just like typing it!