– MLB – Recap – Braves at Cardinals – 08/10/2003

This is a game the Braves had no business losing, but probably deserved to. They were all over Cards starter Woody Williams, getting eight hits and three walks, but couldn’t get a hit with a runner in scoring position. Their only runs came on a solo homer by Sheffield in the fourth and a sac fly, also by Sheffield, in the seventh. Nine left on base, plus Giles was caught stealing in the first. A big problem was that the Braves got nothing from the Joneses. Chipper is still slumping and went 0-3 with a walk. Andruw’s side looks to be acting up again and he went 0-4.

Horacio Ramirez got another no-decision he didn’t deserve, allowing two solo homers. He was very efficient, throwing only 90 pitches, and had only one inning when his control was a problem. Having Furcal turn the unassisted triple play didn’t hurt, of course. It was fluky, like any UTP, but was also a genuinely outstanding play.

But with the Braves leading 2-1with two out in the eighth, Ramirez allowed his second solo homer. Bobby brought in John Smoltz to pitch to Albert Pujols. Now, I’m a big believer in getting more out of Smoltz, and he hadn’t pitched in awhile. But I never would have pulled Ramirez there. You gain the lefty-righty advantage, but Ramirez had handled Pujols as well as anyone has all year, getting him three times, twice on strikeouts. He’d retired six in a row before the homer, and he had only thrown 90 pitches. Smoltz allowed a homer to give the Cards the lead and half an inning later the win.

The Braves have today off before hosting San Diego for three. That’s a prelude to the last rough stretch of the regular season: four hosting Arizona followed by a six-game road trip to San Francisco and Colorado. The lead remains 12 over Florida and Philadelphia.