Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2014
ATLANTA (AP) — The Braves dodged another shutout loss.
That didn’t take away the ugliness of the final home loss in a disappointing season.
The Braves locked up their first losing season since 2008 as they lost to Edinson Volquez and the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-1 on Thursday night.
The Braves (77-82) heard sarcastic boos when they avoided the shutout by scoring one run in the ninth inning. Ramiro Pena’s fly ball to left field off Casey Sadler drove in Jason Heyward.
Atlanta fell to 5-17 in September and will close their regular season with three games at Philadelphia.
“We’ve got three games and we’ve got to play it out,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Braves had no success against Volquez, who threw seven scoreless innings. Volquez (13-7) set a season high with 10 strikeouts and gave up only four hits. He closed his regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless innings.
“His command today was about as good as I’ve seen him,” Gonzalez said.
Travis Snider and Neil Walker hit homers for the Pirates, who moved within one game of NL Central-leading St. Louis.
“We want to keep doing what we’re doing, keep fighting,” Volquez said.
The Pirates won three of four from the reeling Braves.
After posting an ugly combined 5.71 ERA with the Padres and Dodgers in 2013, Volquez finished his 2014 regular season with a 3.04 mark. He was at his best down the stretch, posting a 1.08 ERA in September.
Josh Harrison moved past Colorado’s Justin Morneau (.317) for the lead in the NL batting race. Harrison had three hits, pushing his average to .319, and scored two runs.
Volquez added to his memorable night with an eighth-inning single that snapped his 0-for-45 drought since April 27. The Pirates had 16 hits, including three by Snider.
Starling Marte hit a two-run double in the seventh and Andrew McCutchen drove in two runs with a single in the eighth. Gaby Sanchez had a pinch-hit, run-scoring single in the sixth.
Snider has hit nine of his 13 homers on the road, including two in this series. His first-inning shot off David Hale (4-5) landed in the front row of the centerfield seats. Walker hit a two-run shot off Gus Schlosser in the eighth.
The Braves’ only hit through the first four innings was an infield single by Phil Gosselin in the fourth.
Atlanta didn’t hit a ball out of the infield until the fifth. Following an infield single by Andrelton Simmons, Pena singled to left field, but Volquez pitched out of the jam.
Hale gave up two runs in 4 2-3 innings in his first start since June 28.
“I felt like I had good control of all my pitches, actually,” Hale said. “That surprised me a little bit.”
Hale replaced Mike Minor, who was shut down for the remainder of the season on Tuesday with inflammation in his left shoulder.
Luis Avilan, Atlanta’s second reliever, allowed four runs on four hits in 1 1-3 innings. Schlosser gave up four runs in the eighth.
The 10 runs were the most by the Pirates at Turner Field since the 2008 season opener.
Evan Gattis was 0-for-2 in his first start since Sept. 7. He had been held out with strep throat and a kidney stone and was replaced by Christian Bethancourt in the seventh.
The crowd of 35,140 left Atlanta’s season attendance at 2,354,305, its low mark since 2004 and about 200,000 below last season’s total.
Pirates: C Russell Martin started after leaving Wednesday night’s game with tightness in his left hamstring.
Braves: 3B Chris Johnson was held out after leaving Wednesday night’s game with a lower back strain. He said he was sore from adjustments to his back.
Pirates: RHP Vance Worley will face Reds RHP Mike Leake on Friday night.
Braves: The Braves close their season with a three-game series at Philadelphia. RHP Ervin Santana will try for his 15th win against Phillies RHP Jerome Williams on Friday night.