published Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Struggles continue for Braves, Ervin Santana

Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) turns the double play as Philadelphia Phillies Domonic Brown (9) slides into second in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) turns the double play as Philadelphia Phillies Domonic Brown (9) slides into second in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in Atlanta.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Ervin Santana doesn't know what's happened to the confidence he felt in the first few weeks of the season.

"I'm a little bit frustrated," he said. "But at the same time we win as a team, we lose as a team."

Santana lost his second straight start, Atlanta's offense produced just six hits and the Braves lost 5-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.

Atlanta has lost seven of 11 and 13 of 21.

Ryan Howard homered and Kyle Kendrick won consecutive starts for the first time in 11 months for Philadelphia.

Santana (5-4) continued to struggle, giving up eight hits and four runs — three earned — with three walks in six innings. The right-hander, who struck out five, is 1-4 with a 6.17 ERA in his last seven starts. He was 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his first six starts.

"It was a little better, yeah, but it was it tough battling out there," Santana said. "The pitch that Howard hit was a good pitch. Just one of those days."

The Phillies, winners of two straight and six of eight, got a solid start from Kendrick (3-6), who had gone 2-11 in his previous 20 starts since last Aug. 11.

Kendrick allowed six hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts in seven innings.

Not since he beat Washington last July 11 and won at the New York Mets last July 19 had Kendrick won two straight starts. The right-hander was coming off a 7-3 victory last week against San Diego.

"I was able to get ahead most of the night," Kendrick said. "I was down and trying to pound the strike zone. I think that was the main thing in the first inning. Most of them were down."

The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the first when Jimmy Rollins led off with a double and Howard hit his 13th homer. In 71 career games at Turner Field, Howard is hitting .277 with 20 homers and 69 RBIs.

Philadelphia, which had its leadoff hitter reach safely in eight innings, went up 4-0 in the fourth. Dominic Brown led off with a walk, advanced to third on Reid Brignac's double and scored on a passed ball by Gerald Laird. Brignac, who moved to third on the passed ball, scored on Cesar Hernandez's RBI single.

Atlanta made it 4-1 in the fourth on Jason Heyward's RBI single.

The Braves, who rank third-worst in the majors in runs scored, cut the lead to 4-2 in the seventh when Chris Johnson led off with a double, moved to third Andrelton Simmons' single and scored on Laird's double-play groundout.

Heyward, the only batter with two hits off Kendrick, credited the right-hander with keeping the Braves off balance.

"He gave up two runs and one of them was on a double play, so he threw to contact," Heyward said. "He nibbled a little bit and made a pitch when he had to."

Simmons, named last year's top defender in the NL, had a rare two-error inning in the ninth that helped Marlon Byrd reach second on an infield single and score from third on Brown's fielder's choice grounder for a 5-2 lead.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon recovered from a blown save Monday to record his 16th save in 18 chances. Papelbon retired pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit on a lineout, Tommy La Stella on a groundout and Johnson on a lineout.

NOTES: Braves LF Justin Upton left the game after six innings because of dizziness, but was unable to pinpoint the diagnosis. "I didn't feel so hot out there and (Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez) decided it was just smarter for me to get inside and take care of it," Upton said. "I don't know. It just got me today. I feel OK now, yeah." Upton didn't know if he'd return to the lineup Wednesday. ... Braves RHP David Carpenter was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right biceps. RHP Pedro Beato, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, pitched a scoreless seventh, but walked the bases loaded in the eighth. ... Braves C Evan Gattis, who got the night off, has a franchise-long 16-game hitting streak for a catcher. Del Crandall, in 1958, and Joe Torre, in 1967, had 15-game streaks.

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