Courtesy of a few bloops and a couple blasts recorded at SunTrust Park on Thursday night, the Braves constructed an eight-run fifth inning that enabled them to overcome Jaime Garcia’s rough start and narrowly claim a 12-11 series-clinching win over the Giants.
“You talk about a roller coaster of emotions,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said about the series finale, which started 86 minutes late due to a rain delay. “That’s baseball. It’s crazy. It just happens. You don’t know why. Teams aren’t going to lay down. We came roaring back and they came roaring back.”
After sending 13 batters to the plate and recording nine hits during the fifth-inning flurry, which was fueled by one of Nick Markakis’ four hits and Brandon Phillips’ leadoff homer against Matt Cain, the Braves owned a six-run advantage. But the Giants tallied three runs (one earned) in the eighth against Ian Krol and tallied two more in the ninth against Jim Johnson.
“We had them where we wanted them there in the ninth,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We just couldn’t finish it off and it has been quite a few of those where we come up short.”
When Phillips exited with a tight left groin at the conclusion of the sixth, he was replaced at second base by Danny Santana, who had earlier pinch-run for Matt Kemp. Santana delivered the game-winning RBI on a fifth-inning single, but also committed a nearly disastrous miscue when he threw late to first base after fielding Kelby Tomlinson’s one-out grounder and briefly attempted to retire Brandon Belt in a rundown. A run scored on the play, but after Joe Panik (three RBIs) followed with a sacrifice fly, Hunter Pence grounded out to end the game.
“I don’t know what [Santana] was doing,” Snitker said. “He just waited too long.”
Markakis (4-for-5, three RBIs) began his four-hit game with a two-run homer in the first and then recorded a pair of singles in the fifth. Matt Adams’ fourth-inning leadoff homer added to the struggles endured by Cain, who allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings. This rocky outing negated the production provided by Buster Posey (3-for-5, three RBIs), who homered and added two doubles within in three plate appearances against Garcia, who allowed six earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings.
“I didn’t think that the pitches to Markakis or [Matt] Adams were center-cut or anything like that,” Cain said. “With Adams, you have to elevate on him and he did a good job turning on that one. The one to Phillips probably wasn’t close to being a strike and was just a spinning curveball up. It was kind of impressive he did what he did with it.”
After Matt Adams bruised Cain in the fourth with what was his 12th homer in just his 121st at-bat since joining the Braves, Lane Adams came off the bench during the fifth to realize a dream he’s had since breaking into the pro ball in 2009. His pinch-hit three-run shot, which traveled 408 feet with a 107-mph exit velocity, per Statcast™, proved to be important after the Giants tallied three runs (one earned) in the eighth against Krol.
Markakis’ first four-hit game since April 28, 2016, began with the two-run homer he sent over the right-field wall against Cain in the first. The Braves’ right fielder has tallied two of his three homers in his past 10 games.
Mike Foltynewicz will take the SunTrust Park mound when Atlanta opens a three-game series against the Brewers on Friday at 6:35 p.m. CT. Foltynewicz surrendered a pair of home runs to Domingo Santiago when he lost in Milwaukee on April 30.