Braves rally after bullpen collapse in ninth, but lose to Orioles in 15 innings

Caption
Peter Moylan gave up three runs in the 15th inning or the Braves’ 10-7 loss to the Orioles including a decisive two-run Manny Machado homer. (Video by David O’Brien)

On opening night of Hank Aaron weekend at SunTrust Park, the Braves wore sharp 1970s throwbacks Friday, but for much of the game against the lowly Orioles they hit like the great Aaron seldom did: Not very well.

Then after the offense awakened to give the Braves a late-innings lead, the bullpen collapsed in a six-run ninth that turned a 3-1 lead into a 7-3 deficit. But has often been the case in 2018, the Braves weren’t done.

They roared back with four runs in their half of the ninth to tie, but the Orioles endured and pulled out a 10-7, 15-inning win, getting three runs in the 15th off sidearmer Peter Moylan including Manny Machado’s two-run homer.

The Braves fell to 1-7 in extra-inning games.

Jesse Biddle pitched three perfect innings through the 14th before Moylan entered and hit Craig Gentry with a pitch to start the 15th. A sacrifice bunt later, Machado went deep.

Moylan was the last available Braves reliever, since manager Brian Snitker did not want to use sore-shouldered closer Arodys Vizcaino until at least Saturday, Snitker revealed after the game. Brandon McCarthy, the Braves’ scheduled Sunday starter, was in the bullpen warming up and could’ve beed used if needed.

The first-place team in the National League East lost a interleague series opener against the team that has baseball’s worst record (21-53) and was 29 ½ games out of first place in the American League East before Friday.

Caption
Sean Newcomb delivers a pitch in the first inning of the Braves’ series opener against the Orioles on Friday night at SunTrust Pari. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Credit: Daniel Shirey

Sean Newcomb delivers a pitch in the first inning of the Braves’ series opener against the Orioles on Friday night at SunTrust Pari. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Caption
Sean Newcomb delivers a pitch in the first inning of the Braves’ series opener against the Orioles on Friday night at SunTrust Pari. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Credit: Daniel Shirey

Credit: Daniel Shirey

Johan Camargo, who had a game-tying double in the seventh inning, started the Braves’ improbable ninth-inning rally with a leadoff single against reliever Zach Britton. Danny Santana, a late-innings substitute after arriving from Triple-A Friday, followed with a double off the center-field wall and Ender Inciarte was hit by a pitch to load the bases with none out.

Ozzie Albies’ RBI single cut the deficit to 7-4 and Freddie Freeman’s single drove in two more runs to get the Braves to within a run, still with none out and a crowd of 37,132 getting louder with every at-bat.

Nick Markakis doubled in the tying run, with Freeman thrown out trying to score from first base for the first out of the inning and Markakis going to third on the play.

Orioles reliever Darren O’Day entered and got the last two outs before the Braves could push across another run, striking out Tyler Flowers and, after an intentional walk, getting Dansby Swanson on a fly-out.

And then the two teams went into scoreless mode again until well past midnight, causing the cancellation of the usual Friday night fireworks show because of the late hour.

Santana nearly ended the game with two out in the 12th inning, but his long fly was caught by center fielder Gentry with his glove at the top of the wall.

The Braves had only two hits in the first six innings and trailed 1-0, but their offense came to in the seventh, as it is wont to do. Swanson, Camargo and Charlie Culberson came through with clutch hits. Swanson had a two-out triple before Camargo’s tying double, and Culberson’s bases-loaded, two-out double in the eighth gave the Braves their first lead.

Snitker went with usually reliable Dan Winkler instead of Vizcaino to start the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead. Winkler faced five batters and gave up two singles, a double and a walk before leaving with one out. He was charged with four runs.

Winkler was replaced by Sam Freeman, who was even worse, facing four batters and allowing a sacrifice fly and three consecutive RBI singles.

From 3-1 lead to 7-3 deficit in a half-inning.

So what did the Braves do? They went back to work, grinding out a bunch of hits and scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

Four runs were scored by the two teams combined through eight innings, then 10 runs were scored in the ninth.

The Braves mustered just two hits through six scoreless innings against Baltimore’s Alex Cobb – the right-hander came in 2-9 with a 7.14 ERA – before getting a run against him in his seventh and final inning.

In the eighth, Albies got the Braves going with a one-out walk against reliever Tanner Scott, who gave up a double to Freeman that put two runners in scoring position.

After Markakis was walked intentionally, reliever Brad Brach struck out Flowers to bring up Culberson with the bases loaded. Mr. Walk-Off homer settled for a mere two-run, eighth-inning double this time for a 3-1 lead.

Braves starter Sean Newcomb allowed just three hits in seven innings, but one of them was Chris Davis’ leadoff homer in the fifth inning, which accounted for the only run for either team until the seventh inning. It was the fifth homer for Davis, who came in batting .150 with a majors-worst .454 OPS in 229 plate appearances.

Newcomb was charged with one run and had two walks with three strikeouts, getting no decision to remain 6-0 with a 1.34 ERA in eight games he started following a Braves loss, the best record in the majors in those situations.

Cobb had allowed 18 hits, 14 runs and four homers in 10 2/3 innings over his previous two starts. But against the Braves, he retired the first nine batters and gave up only two hits and two walks in the first six innings.