SAN DIEGO – This time, somebody beat the Viz.
Three other Braves relievers retired 11 consecutive batters to turn over a 3-2 lead to closer Arodys Vizcaino, who gave up the tying and winning runs without recording a second out in a 4-3 loss to the Padres Tuesday night at Petco Park.
Derek Norris led off the ninth inning with tying homer on Vizcaino’s second pitch, a high fastball. Three batters later Wil Myers hit a game-ending single down the left-field line with one out, handing the Braves their sixth consecutive loss and 12th straight defeat at Petco Park dating to late August 2012.
“They were ready, they went up swinging,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said of the Padres’ approach against Vizcaino (1-1). “I haven’t seen it, I don’t know where the (pitch on) the Norris home run was, but he just put a good swing on it.”
After the homer, Vizcaino gave up a single to Alexei Ramirez, who stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Vizcaino walked pinch-hitter Travis Jankowski, who went to second on defensive indifference. After Jon Jay lined out to short, Myers delivered his walk-off single.
“It was the second pitch of the at-bat, it was a fastball that was high,” Vizcaino said of the home-run pitch, through a translator. “Anyone can get ahold of one of those and launch it. That was it. It was a high fastball and he connected and got it, turned it into a home run….
“I’m really not looking too much into it. I think my fastball wasn’t really working for me the way I wanted it to, and my secondary pitches weren’t on point either. It was just one of those bad days. It happens to everybody. I’m just going to take it and move on.”
Nick Markakis drove in two runs and prevented a couple more with a great catch, and the Braves were in prime position for a much-needed win. But after three relievers retired 11 consecutive batters through the eighth inning, Vizcaino failed to convert a save for the second time in eight chances, then took the loss.
The Braves need to win Wednesday to avoid being swept on their entire six-game trip to Los Angeles and San Diego.
Braves rookie Aaron Blair ran up a high pitch count and didn’t make it out of the fifth inning, though he pitched significantly better than in his previous start. He threw just 46 strikes in 86 pitches but managed to limit the Padres to six hits, two runs and three walks with four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings, with a big assist from the bullpen.
In his start Thursday against the Giants, Blair gave up five hits, six runs, three homers and four walks in four innings.
“Last couple of times it’s been third time through the lineup that’s kind of got me,” Blair said. “Today was not being able to throw off-speed for strikes, just kind of being a two-pitch pitcher. You need that third pitch to kind of offset what the hitters are thinking…. And also giving the free passes (walks) again kind of hurt me.”
Blair left with bases loaded in the fifth and the Braves ahead 3-1, and reliever Casey Kelly limited the damage to one run on a sacrifice fly by Melvin Upton Jr., before striking out Brett Wallace to end the inning.
Markakis, who had an RBI double in the first inning and a sacrifice fly in the two-run third, made an oustanding running catch on Upton’s fly ball, hauling it in just before crashing into the right-field wall.
Markakis has 12 hits and nine RBIs in his past 11 games, after batting .159 with five RBIs in the first 22 games of May.
Freddie Freeman, who’d been mired in a 15-game slump, went 2-for-3 with a walk, a single and a controversial eighth-inning triple that caromed off the top of the left-field fence. The Braves thought it hit a fan’s glove before sailing back onto the field, in which case it would’ve been a homer. Umpires reviewed it for 55 seconds and the call stood — no home run.
Kelly entered after the Padres loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. After he retired five consecutive batters through the sixth inning, Chris Withrow pitched a perfect seventh and Jim Johnson a perfect eighth.