– MLB – Recap – Braves at Pirates

This is awful. Greisinger wasn’t great, but good enough to keep the Braves in it. But the bullpen sucked again, and the offense was hopeless except for Ryan Langerhans, and the Braves finally fell out of first place.

Greisinger got in trouble in the first, allowing one run and having another runner thrown out at the plate to end the inning. He was better after that, but still remarkably hittable, allowing seven hits in five innings, including two doubles and a solo homer in his last inning that tied the game at 2. It’s good enough for him to get the next start when needed, not good enough, I’d guess, for them to not skip him with the day off next week.

But Adam Bernero gave up a two-run homer in the sixth, taking the loss, and Sosa screwed up and committed an error leading to a run in the seventh. Oddly, Colon managed to pitch an inning without allowing a run.

The first five hitters in the Braves lineup — Furcal, Giles, Chipper, Julio, Andruw — were hitless against Oliver Perez. (Hey, everybody, send your struggling young aces to face us! They’ll right themselves in a hurry!) The first three did draw a walk apiece. Julio struck out three times, usually swinging on pitches nowhere near the strike zone. Langerhans was 2-3, including a long homer accounting for both runs.

The Natspos beat the Marlins and move into first place. The Braves are a half game back, the Mets and Phillies a half game behind them, the Marlins a half game behind them. I don’t take the Natspos seriously — they simply don’t have enough good players and the ones they do are fragile — but this stretch, when the Marlins have been struggling mightily, is something that the Braves should have taken advantage of but didn’t.

The Braves play the California Angels (that’s what I’m going to call them, because the name they’re trying to use is stupid) in Atlanta starting tomorrow. Smoltz will face John Lackey to start; Paul Byrd will return to Atlanta in the second game of the series. (Well, actually I’m sure he’ll be there Monday if not tonight, but he’ll be on the mound Tuesday.)