Braves strand 22 base runners in 12-inning loss

The Braves' Marcell Ozuna nears home after hitting a home run, next to Washington Nationals catcher Yan Gomes during the eighth inning of a  game in Washington on Friday. (AP photo)
The Braves' Marcell Ozuna nears home after hitting a home run, next to Washington Nationals catcher Yan Gomes during the eighth inning of a game in Washington on Friday. (AP photo)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Braves left a staggering 22 runners on base Friday night, and that ultimately cost them an 8-7 loss to the Washington Nationals in 12 innings.

The marathon of a game at Nationals Park lasted four hours and 48 minutes, the longest by time in MLB this season.

It featured Braves highlights, such as a three-run rally with two out in the ninth and a five-hit night by Marcell Ozuna, and Braves lowlights, such as falling behind 5-0 in the early innings for a second consecutive night because of inadequate starting pitching.

And then there was the scare the Braves got when Ronald Acuna had to be helped off the field after fouling a ball off his ankle in the fourth inning and the relief they felt less than an hour later when X-rays showed no fracture.

Ultimately, the game ended when a two-out walk-off single by the Nationals' Michael A. Taylor against the seventh Braves reliever, Grant Dayton, broke a 7-7 tie that had stood since the Braves' ninth-inning rally.

Still, for the Braves, any analysis of the game comes back to the inexplicable total of 22 runners left on base, at least one in every inning.

“You tell me. I don’t know. What’s the answer?” Braves manager Brian Snitker said afterward. "I mean, it’s not even a small village – it’s a small state – we left (on base).

“I don’t know how to explain it. It isn’t because guys aren’t trying. They want to drive that run in more than anybody wants them to, believe me.”

The Braves, who trailed from the bottom of the first inning until the top of the ninth, had chances to take the lead in the 10th, 11th and 12th, all of which started with a runner on second base under MLB’s rules for extra-inning games this season.

The Braves didn’t score in the 10th despite having a runner on third base with one out. They didn’t score in the 11th despite having runners on second and third with none out and the bases loaded with one out. And they didn’t score in the 12th despite having the bases loaded with one out.

The one time Ozuna made an out all night was in the 11th, when his pop fly to right field wasn’t deep enough to score a runner from third.

“It’s hard to get six hits,” Snitker said. “I love him up there in RBI situations.”

Ozuna’s first career five-hit game included an RBI single that trimmed the Nationals' early lead to 5-2, a home run that pulled the Braves within 6-4 in the eighth inning and a two-run two-out single that got the Braves within 7-6 in the ninth. Then a single by Travis d’Arnaud tied the score and sent the game into extra innings.

Ozuna’s homer was his 14th of the season, one off the National League lead held by San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr.

For the night, the Braves had 14 hits and drew 12 walks.

“We came back from five down again and scored seven runs,” Snitker said. “It should be enough to win.”

Braves starting pitcher Josh Tomlin, who had pitched six strong innings against the Nationals five days earlier, was hit hard in the first inning this time. Washington had a 3-0 lead on three hits and a walk before Tomlin retired a batter. The Nationals scored two more runs against him in the third inning.

Tomlin’s night was finished after four innings, continuing a trend of short starts by the Braves’ rotation. The starters have completed four or fewer innings in 26 of 45 games, and only one of the 30 MLB teams, Boston, has more starts of four or fewer innings this season.

In the Braves' past five games, their starters have lasted three innings (Ian Anderson on Monday), four innings (Kyle Wright on Tuesday), 3-1/3 innings (Tommy Milone on Wednesday), 1-2/3 innings (Robbie Erlin on Thursday) and four innings (Tomlin on Friday).