The Braves have traded away just about all of their former stars, but the lone remaining standout handed the Giants a tough 5-4 loss Wednesday in Atlanta. Freddie Freeman opened the bottom of the 11th with a walk-off homer to right off Derek Law. The Giants had led 4-1 before blowing the lead late.
In his first career big league start, Albert Suarez gave up three runs on three hits in five innings. The journeyman showed poise and quality stuff, hitting 96 in the first inning and sitting in the mid 90s the rest of the afternoon.
Suarez didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth, when Ender Inciarte hit a flare to right-center that was kicked away by Denard Span and went for a triple. The Braves would score that inning and get two more in the sixth, cutting into a Giants lead.
Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer in the fourth and the Giants scratched across runs in the fifth and sixth. Suarez brought the fourth run home with an infield single, his first career hit. The bullpen bent but didn’t break until the ninth.
Santiago Casilla entered with a one-run lead and struck out Freeman before drilling Adonis Garcia. After a Nick Markakis bloop to left sent Garcia to third, Casilla threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score and the winning run to get to second. Casilla would get out of that jam, sending the game to extras.
Law got through the 10th, but Freeman jumped on a hanging breaking ball in the 11th to give the Braves a second win in three games against the team that had the best record in the Majors in May.
Starting pitching report: Suarez made 103 minor league starts over nine seasons before getting called up last month. His first start was very Yusmeiro Petit-ish, and certainly showed enough to keep Suarez in the spot starter role. Through 17 big league innings, Suarez has a 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Bullpen report: George Kontos came in with runners on the corners and no outs in the sixth and immediately got a double play. Kontos then struck out Freddie Freeman. That looked more like the Kontos the Giants saw last year.
At the plate: Perhaps buoyed by the fact that he’s far behind in All-Star voting, Belt homered for the second time in three days. He has a .922 OPS. His previous career-high is .841.
In the field: Jarrett Parker nearly made a running basket catch, and then he nearly Canseco’d a ball over the wall. Those things happened on the same play. With a runner on second in the sixth, Mallex Smith blasted a liner to right that Parker nearly hauled in for a spectacular play. The ball bounced off his glove, though, and came inches from clearing the wall on the ricochet. Parker couldn’t pick it up cleanly and the speedy Smith cruised into third for an RBI triple.
Up next: Madison Bumgarner had a 1.05 ERA in May, and now he gets to face one of the weakest lineups in the league. You might want to tune in. He’ll face Aaron Blair, a prospect who was traded to Atlanta in the Shelby Miller deal.