Braves lose second consecutive shutout


Braves lose second consecutive shutout

The Braves knew there would be days like this. They just didn’t know they would be one after another.

The Braves’ all-or-nothing attack has been a whole lot of nada lately, as they took their second consecutive 2-0 loss to the Brewers on Saturday and extended their scoreless streak to 24 innings.

The Braves are exploring the nether regions of offensive futility, being dealt back-to-back shutouts for the first time this season. The shutout loss was their 11th, which leads all major league teams.

The Braves doubled their hit total from Friday night, but that wasn’t saying much, as they got four hits this time — two each from B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons.

“We’ve got to pick up our attitude; we’ve got to pick up our intensity,” second baseman Dan Uggla said. “Not saying that we didn’t play hard today or we didn’t play hard yesterday, but we’ve got to pick it up.”

The one area where the Braves are thriving is starting pitching, but Tim Hudson got his own taste of what Julio Teheran felt Friday night, holding the Brewers to two runs in six innings and walking away with a loss.

The Braves have scored only six runs in Hudson’s past five starts, leaving him 0-3 despite a 1.82 ERA in June. The Braves have provided Hudson only 10 runs of support in his past nine starts, since his last win May 5 against the Mets.

“You’ve got to just keep grinding it out,” said Hudson, now 4-7 with a 4.10 ERA. “Obviously things haven’t really turned out how we want them to since we’ve been here, and me for my last few starts. But that’s baseball. Unfortunately sometimes you lose games like that. You’ve just got to go out there and keep plugging along and grind through it. Hopefully the tide starts turning a little bit.”

The Braves haven’t scored since the third inning of a 4-3 loss to the Mets on Thursday. On Friday, the Braves managed two singles in a shutout loss to Wily Peralta, a pitcher who was 4-8 with a 6.08 ERA entering the series. On Saturday, the Brewers rolled out rookie reliever Donovan Hand for his first major league start. The Alabama native pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings to combine with Burke Badenhop, Mike Gonzalez, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez for the shutout.

The Braves had never seen Hand, but Uggla for one didn’t want to blame that for the lack of offensive execution.

“There’s no excuse,” Uggla said. “This is baseball. He didn’t have anything that any of us haven’t seen before.”

Rodriguez picked up his 300th career save after working around a Simmons single off the left-field wall. Simmons nearly was picked off on a relay throw by standout shortstop Jean Segura, but Simmons knocked the ball loose when he slid back into first base.

The Braves had run themselves out of two innings when Simmons and Jordan Schafer were caught trying to steal second base in the first and sixth innings, respectively.

“Trying to get something going,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It’s tough to sit there on your hands, and yesterday we tried a little safety squeeze, trying to just get a run on the board.”

Gonzalez used his 60th different lineup in 76 games Saturday, this time with Schafer starting in place of Justin Upton in left field and batting leadoff instead of Simmons.

“We’ll keep juggling,” Gonzalez said. “It’ll be 61 tomorrow. I can guarantee you that.”

Hudson gave up seven hits and walked four, but gave up only two runs after Juan Francisco beat the shift with a single past shortstop Simmons in the fourth inning. Aramis Ramirez bounced an RBI single just over Simmons’ head in the fifth.

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