Punchless Braves lose another extra-innings game

Things are so bad for the Braves’ offense, the lead singer of a soft rock cover band took a jab at them during a postgame concert Monday at Turner Field.

Kyle Phillips led off the 10th inning with a homer against reliever George Sherrill to lift the San Diego Padres to a 3-2 win against the Braves, who’ve now scored two runs or fewer in seven of their past 10 games and wasted a lot of strong pitching performances this season.

“We have all the confidence in the world that we’re going to start putting some crooked numbers on the board,” Braves pitcher Tim Hudson said. “We’ve just got to wait for our guys to start punishing the other guy on the mound.”

Hudson was charged with two runs (one earned), five hits and no walks in six innings in his first start since missing a turn for back stiffness. Three relievers had a scoreless inning apiece before the homer off Sherrill (1-1).

“What are you going to do, try to hold a tie game every night?” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “They give up a run and we want to shoot the bullpen.”

It was the eighth extra-inning game in the past 18 for the Braves, whose anemic offense and strong pitching have formed an excruciating pattern of low-scoring, close games frequently requiring extra innings for a resolution.

“It’s bonus baseball almost every night,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully that will change.”

The Braves have scored 29 runs in their past 11 games, and 20 of those runs came in four extra-inning games in which they batted at least 11 times.

Before Phillips’ homer -- his first in 48 major league at-bats and first hit against a left-hander -- the Padres’ only runs came after a Hudson throwing error in the first inning and a missed double-play opportunity in the third.

Center fielder Jordan Schafer caught a pop fly and caught pitcher Aaron Harang straying too far off second base, but Schafer’s throw to second baseman Dan Uggla was wide of the base, and Uggla failed to catch it.

“It was a tough loss,” Hudson said. “[It was] another one of those games where we felt like we should have won. A couple of bad throws to second base, one by myself and one to try to double off the pitcher right there, pretty much cost us the game.”

Brian McCann continued his surge with a 3-for-5 game that included two doubles and run-scoring hits in the first and third innings.

The rest of the Braves managed five singles and a double, and couldn’t drive in McCann after his leadoff double in the sixth.

Gonzalez said he had no problem with Schafer trying to steal second base with two out and Martin Prado at bat in the ninth, though Prado had a two-run homer in Sunday’s 2-1 win against Cincinnati. Schafer was called out, though replays appeared to show he was safe, and that play sent the game to extra innings.

“He’s on his own most of the time,” Gonzalez said of the speedy Schafer having a green light to steal. “We thought we had a good chance to do it there. I got no problem with it. That’s what he does for a living. He uses his legs. We get in scoring position there, bloop one in there and the game’s over.”

Schafer said, “I just went and watched the video; I was safe… If I stay on first there, you need a double in the gap to try to score. He gave me a green light and I took off. I was safe, but we’re all going to make mistakes.

“I told [the umpire] I was safe. He didn’t say anything. But like I said, we’re all going to make mistakes.”

Gonzalez said, “I didn’t see it, but the guys came out [from watching the replay] saying they think he [was safe]. But that wasn’t the game. We had opportunities.”

They’ve The Braves have scored two runs or fewer in 20 of 55 games, including Monday, when they were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded five in the sixth through eighth innings.

“I wouldn’t say that's the most frustrating part,” Gonzalez said, “but that’s the stuff you keep waiting for your offense [to do], to get a couple runs and split a gap and run the bases.”

The Yacht Rock Revue band did a postgame concert from a stage on the infield, and its lead singer congratulated some in the crowd for reaching second base, which he noted was accomplished by only a few earlier in the day. Ouch.

Thirty of the Braves’ 55 games have been decided by one or two runs, and they have a 15-15 record in those. They are 15-10 in their other games.

“Huddy threw a great game and the bullpen came in and threw well,” said Brooks Conrad, who filled in for sore-kneed third baseman Chipper Jones and went 1-for-2 with a single and walk. “Obviously coming up with a big hit, we’ve struggled a little with that lately

"You’ve got to come up with that big hit and score those runs when you can, because playing against a team like the Padres, with the pitching they’ve got up and down, the opportunity might not come again.”