- Associated Press - Saturday, July 25, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Atlanta Braves rookie left-hander Manny Banuelos learned a tough lesson on Friday.

Banuelos made one costly mistake, surrendering a two-out, two-run homer to Randal Grichuk in the second inning of the Braves’ 4-2 loss at St. Louis.

“I left that fastball right in the middle,” Banuelos said. “It was hard.”

Banuelos came into the game against the Cardinals on a roll. He had not allowed more than one earned run in each of his three previous major league starts. But he surrendered six hits and four runs in five-plus innings against the Cardinals.

The mistake to Grichuk seemed to deflate Banuelos, who gave up single runs in the third and fourth innings putting the Braves in a 4-0 hole.



“He got two quick outs, kind of relaxed a little bit. Next thing you know, that inning kind of evolved on him,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Other than that, I thought he did a nice job.”

Explained Banuelos: “I just (made) a tough mistake in a tough situation.”

Grichuk’s two-run homer was his second in as many nights. Mark Reynolds and Jhonny Peralta added run-scoring hits to help the Cardinals improve to 6-1 since the All-Star break. They are an MLB-best 35-12 at home.

Meanwhile, the Braves have lost their last six road games. Atlanta, opening a 10-game road trip, has lost nine of its last 12 overall.

Rookie Tim Cooney (1-0) gave up five hits and two earned runs in an efficient 74-pitch stint for the Cardinals. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. He faced four batters over the minimum.

“I think my command has been getting a little bit better each start,” Cooney said. “This was the best for my fastball command. When you are able to locate the ball, good things are going to happen.”

Cooney said the importance of the moment did not sink in until he looked up at the scoreboard right after the final out.

“When it ended and I saw my name in win column, it was pretty cool,” he said.

Cooney had a successive scoreless string stopped at 12 innings when the Braves scored twice in the sixth.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny has been impressed with Cooney’s composure in all six of his starts. The last five were no-decisions.

“He was very unpredictable with what he was going to throw tonight,” Matheny said. “He made the pitches in tough counts. He had a feel for everything.”

Kevin Siegrist retired the Braves in the ninth for his fifth save in eight opportunities. He struck out Jonny Gomes with two on to end the game. St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal was given the night off after appearing in the previous three games.

Atlanta was able to stay close, but could not come up with a big hit down the stretch.

“I thought our bullpen did a terrific job coming in, keeping it right there,” Gonzalez. “With Jonny Gomes at the plate, who historically wears out left-handed pitching, you feel pretty good in that situation.

The Braves sent two of their most experienced hitters to the New York Mets after the game in exchange for a pair of minor league pitchers. Third baseman Juan Uribe and utilityman Kelly Johnson were dealt for right-handers John Gant and Rob Whalen.

“You’re getting ready to lose two guys that are really pretty good guys on our club,” Gonzalez said. “Uribe’s only been here about two months, but he fit in right away with these guys and you’re going to miss that and Kelly’s professionalism.”

TRAINER’S ROOM:

Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman began a rehabilitation assignment with the Rookie League Gulf Coast team in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Friday. Freeman, who has missed 29 games, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 23 with a bruised right wrist.

Cardinals: Rookie OF/INF Stephen Piscotty did not start on Friday after being a late scratch on Thursday due to a stiff neck. He reached on an error as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

UP NEXT:

Former Cardinals RHP Shelby Miller (5-6, 2.33) will face RHP Carlos Martinez (10-4, 2.51) in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday. Miller was acquired from the Cardinals on Nov. 17, 2014, along with RHP Tyrell Jenkins in exchange for OF Jason Heyward and RHP Jordan Walden. Martinez had recorded 10 successive quality starts.

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