Braves lose 7th straight, fall to Cardinals 4-3

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm •  Published: May 5, 2014
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ATLANTA (AP) — For the Atlanta Braves, there were more woes with runners in scoring position.

That's becoming the norm.

There also was a botched play by shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

No one ever expects that from the Gold Glover.

It added up to another loss.

The Braves shook up their lineup in hopes of generating more offense, but Matt Carpenter's two-run double helped carry St. Louis to a 4-3 victory Monday night, handing Atlanta its seventh straight defeat.

"Teams are going to go on runs like this," said Braves starter Aaron Harang, who took the loss. "We're going to battle out of it. It's so early in the season. No one is stressing in here."

Well, maybe a little.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made a drastic lineup switch, batting Harang eighth and putting second baseman Ramiro Pena in the ninth spot. It actually worked out pretty well. Pena had two hits, including a seventh-inning homer that brought the Braves within a run.

But Atlanta couldn't overcome a 4-0 deficit.

Justin Upton took a called third strike from Trevor Rosenthal to end the game with the potential tying run at second base — Upton's fourth strikeout of the night and extending Atlanta's woes with runners in scoring position.

The Braves were 1 for 12 in those situations and are 6 of 51 during their losing streak, though Freddie Freeman saw some encouraging signs.

"We hit some balls hard with runners on," he said. "We were in the game the whole game. We couldn't say that the past week."

Simmons had a couple of plays that could've been scored errors, including a third-inning grounder that was ruled a hit. With a runner on in the fifth, he appeared to take his eye off the ball trying to rush a force play, allowing Mark Ellis' grounder to skip past. Initally ruled a hit as well, it was changed to an E-6, resulting in a pair of unearned runs.

"Those things happen," Harang said. "I told him not to be too hard on himself. He's probably going to save my butt plenty of times this year."

The last time the Braves had such a lengthy skid was May 21-28, 2012, when they dropped eight in a row. Their longest losing streak last season was four straight.

Shelby Miller (4-2) got a shaky win, giving up six hits and two runs in five-plus innings. Rosenthal pitched out of trouble for his ninth save, giving up a leadoff single to Simmons. Jordan Schafer bunted the runner to second, but Pena flied out to right before Upton whiffed.