Indians score 3 in ninth off Vizcaino to beat Braves

One of baseball’s cardinal sins is walking a leadoff hitter, particularly in the late innings of a close game.

Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino didn’t just walk the leadoff hitter in the ninth inning of a tied game Tuesday against the Indians, he walked the first two. Both scored in a messy three-run inning that lifted the Indians to a 5-3 win against the Braves at Turner Field, extending their winning streak to 11 games.

The Braves didn't go quietly in their half of the ninth as Jace Peterson homered, Jeff Francoeur got ejected and tossed his cap on the field after an out call at first base was reviewed and upheld, and Freddie Freeman hit a two-out triple off the wall.

“Good Lord, we got the tying run to the plate there,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said, again lauding the resilience of his team. “We’re kind of dead in the water again, next thing you know here they come again. I’m like, holy smokes. They don’t quit. I thought Freddie’s ball was out. Even then, I’m thinking anything can happen. We’ve got the right guys up there at that point in time, and I liked our chances.”

But when Nick Markakis flied out to deep left, the Braves had their fifth loss in seven games since a six-game winning streak.

“We keep battling, man. We keep playing, we’re never giving up,” said Ender Inciarte, who had a game-tying two-run single in the sixth inning and was called out on the close play at first base for the second out in the ninth, after Peterson’s homer and before Freeman’s triple.

Inciarte’s grounder pulled Carlos Santana off first base, and he tossed the ball to pitcher Cody Allen, who bobbled it a bit as he arrived simultaneously at first base with Inciarte. The Braves challenged the call, it stood upon review, and Francoeur was ejected by first-base umpire and crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt for shouting from the dugout after the challenge ruling. Francoeur then tossed his hat onto the field.

“I felt like I beat the throw; he didn’t even have the ball, and then still (called) an out,” Inciarte said. “So I don’t know what (the umpires reviewing video replays are) doing in New York, I don’t know what the deal is.”

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Absorbing his third loss in his past 12 appearances, Vizcaino (1-3) was charged with two hits, three runs, two walks and a wild pitch in two-thirds of an inning, with two of the runs unearned after a two-out error by shortstop Erick Aybar.

“That’s tough when that happens, but it does happen,” Snitker said of the two walks to start the three-run innning. “I’ve seen it happen to really good closers. That’s why those guys have to have a short memory.”

Braves starter Matt Wisler gave up two runs and three hits in the first inning, while his teammates didn’t get a hit until the sixth inning or hit a fly ball until the seventh. For much of the early season that would’ve been a certain recipe for defeat for the Braves.

But the Braves have made comebacks a thing in recent weeks, and Wisler has made adjustments and pitched more effectively after some rough first innings. Wisler had a career-high nine strikeouts with two walks in six innings, and the Indians got only three hits in five scoreless innings against him after the first.

“The more he was out there, the better he got,” Snitker said. “That’s a positive thing in this ballgame. Again, you’re talking about a young starter. Every pitch he throws in these games is a learning thing for him. He did a really fine job of keeping that ballgame right there for us to come back, and we did.”

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Indians starter Corey Kluber dominated the Braves through five innings, facing the minimum 15 batters in that span and inducing a double-play grounder by Freeman to end the first inning after Inciarte drew a one-out walk.

They didn’t have another runner reach base until Aybar reached on an infield single to start the sixth inning, a hit that could’ve been ruled an error on shortstop Francisco Lindor. The official scorer could breathe a little easier when Emilio Bonifacio followed with a clean single up the middle.

After a Wisler sacrifice and a Jace Peterson strikeout, Inciarte fouled off six consecutive pitches to start his at-bat and singled on a 1-2 count to drive in two runs to tie, 2-2.

“Ender had as good an at-bat as I’ve seen all year,” Snitker said. “You talk about grinding, battling in an at-bat, that’s the definition of it right there. That’s how you do it.”

Wisler gave up three consecutive one-out singles in the first inning, with Jose Ramirez’s hit driving in the first run and a double-steal scoring Lindor for a 2-0 lead.

Wisler’s first-inning batting average allowed is .294, while he’s limited opponents’ to a .232 average after the first.