© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/29/07 9:11 PM ET
Winning streak over at eight games
Hernandez allows eight runs over four innings in finale
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- For the past eight days, everything that could go right did so for the D-backs, including walk-off wins the past three games. Then everything went wrong on Sunday when the Braves snapped Arizona's eight-game winning streak with a 14-0 victory in front of 30,535 at Chase Field. "They came out swinging [in return] for the last couple of days," said manager Bob Melvin. "We paid for it today. The good news is it only counts as one." In the aftermath, the D-backs suffered their worst defeat of the season, barely beating out a 13-0 loss to the Giants on July 1, and the largest shutout loss in franchise history on a day in which they attempted to reach the franchise's longest winning streak in over four years. No Arizona club has lost this badly since an 18-4 loss to the Mets almost two years ago. "Everybody says you'd rather get beat by 14 than one," Melvin said. "Well, it doesn't feel very good when you get beat by 14 runs, but we just have to look at it as one. We've been playing well, we have an off-day tomorrow, and then we have a couple big series in front of us." The Braves poured it on early and often, with three runs each in the first two innings and at least another tally in the first seven. In the process they rapped out 19 hits, a season-high for a D-backs opponent this season. Livan Hernandez's day did not go well in his first outing since snapping a nine-start winless streak. Hernandez gave up eight runs, which tied a season high for him, on eight hits in four innings. He also walked three and hit a batter. "It happens," Hernandez said. "You're not going to win every game in the season. It's not going to happen. It's a tough day for everybody, for every pitcher and every hitter. It's a really tough day. It's the day where whatever you try, it isn't going to happen, and whatever you throw they're going to hit a blooper, base hit, broken bat, whatever. You can do nothing about that." Hernanez (6-7) suffered his usual fate against the Braves, as he dropped to 3-15 with a 5.44 ERA in his career against Atlanta, the most times any opponent has beaten him. He chalked that up to playing a number of years in the same division as a member of the Marlins and Nationals. The game turned for Hernandez and crew, with the D-backs trailing 3-0, with the bases loaded and two outs in the second. After getting Edgar Renteria to pop out to short with out one, Chipper Jones lined a ball to first that Conor Jackson could not come up with, leading to a three-run double. "The ball takes a bad hop on Conor and gets down there and all of a sudden three runs score, and now it feels like a completely different game," Melvin said. "He's a guy that can get you out of some jams, and when that ball takes a bad hop, now all of a sudden it's 6-0, it just feels like a totally different game, so you just chalk it up like a tough one." Even when Atlanta took a 7-0 lead after three, the D-backs learned first hand on Friday how easy that is to make up, when the Braves rallied from a 7-0 deficit in the fourth to tie the game before eventually losing. But Dustin Nippert, who pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief that led to an Arizona win on Thursday, was hit just as hard as Hernandez, giving up four runs on six hits in two innings to make this one a laugher. "We just couldn't follow it up with any shutdown innings, it kept snowballing on us, and they scored a bunch of runs," Melvin said. Arizona also had to deal with Tim Hudson on the mound, which was no easy chore. Hudson (11-5) yielded just three hits in seven shutout innings in a game the D-backs did not put more than one runner on base in any inning. With Hudson on the mound with that lead, Melvin said it gave the Braves a psychological advantage, as the right-hander can be especially tough when he gets a lead like that. "It was just a good day for them, and once they got the ball rolling with Hudson on the mound, if you get a six-, seven-run lead early that can just settle him down," said Chad Tracy. "He can pretty much take over a game." At the end of the day, the D-backs still must be happy that they won eight in a row, including six of seven on the homestand, to move within percentage points of the Dodgers for first place in the National League West and 1/2 game ahead of the Padres in the Wild-Card race. Before the D-backs head out on a road trip against those two foes in the tight NL West, Tracy put the defeat in perspective. "It's one loss," he said. "No matter if you lose by 14 or one it's still a loss. It had to come to an end sometime, and today was their day. Hopefully [Tuesday] we'll start a new one."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.