ATLANTA (AP) - Following a dominant opening month, Ervin Santana has found trouble in May.
The low point was allowing the first grand slam of his career.
Santana suffered his second straight ugly loss and the Atlanta Braves’ modest three-game winning streak ended with a 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
Mark Reynolds hit a first-inning grand slam off Santana and Carlos Gomez added a two-run homer in the fourth.
Santana (4-2) said he struggled with location as he allowed a season-high six runs on nine hits and four walks in seven innings.
“I was a little bit off the outside corner,” Santana said, adding he pulled his arm too much toward first base.
“That’s why I didn’t have the location,” he said. “But after that I just re-focused and tried to hit my spots.
“It was almost every pitch. In the first few innings I didn’t have any location. For the most part I was trying to keep the ball down. That’s what happens when you make mistakes.”
The Brewers’ two homers matched the total allowed by Santana in his first seven starts.
Santana has set season highs for runs allowed in two straight starts. The right-hander allowed five runs on 10 hits in five innings of a 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Friday.
“Health-wise, he’s fine,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who called Santana’s pitch that Reynolds hit over the left-field wall “a cement-mixer slider.”
“We’ve just got to eliminate some of those,” Gonzalez said.
Santana, 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in April, has seen his ERA climb to 3.42.
Kyle Lohse (6-1) was sharp while going eight innings to win his sixth straight decision as the Brewers ended a four-game losing streak. He gave up one run on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Lohse’s only loss of the season came against the Braves on April 1.
Six of Milwaukee’s first seven batters reached base. Gomez singled, Scooter Gennett doubled and Jonathan Lucroy took a one-out walk before Reynolds’ third career grand slam.
“It was big. We’ve been struggling the past couple of games,” Reynolds said. “Give Lohse some breathing room.”
The Braves scored their only run off Lohse in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton, who had three hits. Lohse did not allow another baserunner to reach second base. Atlanta’s only other hits off Lohse were singles by Jason Heyward in the third and Upton in the seventh.
“It seemed like he hit all the quadrants of the strike zone: in, up, down and away with all his pitches,” Gonzalez said.
“He mixed it well. He kept us off balance.”
Freeman said the Braves’ batters “were aggressive,” but couldn’t take advantage of opportunities.
“He made a lot of mistakes, we just popped them all up, it seemed like,” Freeman said. “We just didn’t get it done tonight.”
Upton had a two-out single off Rodriguez in the ninth before Chris Johnson’s third strikeout ended the game.
The Brewers took advantage of Santana’s two-out walk to Lohse in the fourth. Gomez followed with a high homer, his 10th, over the center field wall.
Gomez circled the bases without incident, avoiding a repeat of an ugly melee on Sept. 25, 2013. Gomez was slow to leave the batter’s box following a homer in that game at Turner Field, and he exchanged words with Braves infielders as he circled the bases and then was blocked at home plate by former Atlanta catcher Brian McCann. That led to a brawl that emptied both dugouts.
NOTES: Braves C Evan Gattis missed his second straight game with viral symptoms, but was available off the bench. … Lohse improved to 4-0 in six career starts at Turner Field. … The four-game series ends Thursday night with Braves RHP Aaron Harang facing Brewers RHP Matt Garza.
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