- 142 wins
- 110 wins
ATLANTA -- J.P. Arencibia's throw to third base was high and wide and as it flew past Brett Lawrie and into left field, the 42,488 fans at Turner Field erupted into cheers. Braves right fielder Jason Heyward easily scored the game-winning run in the 10th inning to deliver the home team a 4-3 walk-off victory on the night they retired John Smoltz's number.
But for the Blue Jays, it was another heartbreaking loss. For the second straight day, reliever Francisco Cordero walked off the mound as the opposing team celebrated a victory. The day before, it had been the White Sox and Orlando Hudson.
The loss was especially tough for the Blue Jays to take because of the way the Braves scored three of their four runs. There was Heyward's, which was the result of Arencibia's fourth error of the season. There was the one in the third, when starter Kyle Drabek walked Dan Uggla with two outs and the bases loaded to force in a run. And, perhaps most especially, there was the Braves' second run in the sixth.
With two outs in the inning, the game tied at 2 and runners on the corners, Toronto reliever Chad Beck was facing Jose Constanza. Beck faked a pickoff throw to third base, where Heyward was, and whirled around to check Andrelton Simmons at first. When Beck saw Simmons breaking for second, which was uncovered, he ran at Simmons. Beck was called for a balk, allowing Heyward to score the go-ahead run.
Beck retired Constanza to limit the damage and the Blue Jays would tie the game in the eighth, but after the game, they were confused by the balk call.
Beck said he had watched the replay, but that his opinion didn't count for much.
Manager John Farrell was more direct.
"It wasn't a balk," he said.
While Atlanta was able to scrape together just enough runs to win, Toronto scuffled at the plate against starter Brandon Beachy and a talented bullpen. The Blue Jays managed just five hits in 10 innings.
After tying the game at 3 in the eighth, the Blue Jays had an opportunity to score the go-ahead run in the ninth. Left fielder Rajai Davis led off the inning with a single off closer Craig Kimbrel. He promptly stole second and third, standing 90 feet away from home with only one out. But Kimbrel struck out Lawrie and got Colby Rasmus to fly out to left field, escaping the jam.
"Rajai did an excellent job not only getting on base, but giving us the chance to -- even with a ground ball on the infield -- score the go-ahead run in that situation," Ferrell said. "Unfortunately it didn't work out like that."
Toronto's offense received a boost from first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who was playing for the first time since being hit by a pitch on the hand Sunday. He went 2-for-4 with two runs and a double in his return.
The Blue Jays' other run came from Jose Bautista. He led off the sixth with a home run into the left-field seats against Beachy. Bautista got a fastball on the inside half of the plate on a 3-1 count and hammered it for his 16th of the year.
"He put himself in a position where he had to throw [a fastball] over the plate or walk me," Bautista said. "I was able to take advantage of one of the two."
The rest of the Blue Jays weren't able to take advantage of their opportunities. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. While the Braves were 0-for-12 with RISP, they took advantage of the Blue Jays' mistakes and created some luck of their own.
Heyward said he made the decision to steal third himself and, as he slid into the bag, saw the ball fly past him.
"Once I saw that, I knew it was over and we won," he said. "It was rewarding. You take a gamble right there and that is why you do it."
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, made their own luck, too. It just wasn't the kind that leads to a celebration.
"When you give up runs by an errant throw, certainly that's not what you design to do," Farrell said.
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.