ATLANTA -- Every so often, just to make sure the folks in the box seats are paying attention, the Braves offer a glaring reminder of the quality of life around these parts a decade ago.
Those unpleasant memories stirred to the surface like a witch's bubbling cauldron Friday night, triggered by Terry Mulholland's shaky outing and Phil Nevin's career-high six RBI in an 11-7 bashing by the San Diego Padres at Turner Field, ending the Braves' latest win streak at six.
For the crowd of 39,423 who wished to see the start of a third straight sweep, there was nothing but disappointment and a fair bit of shock at the Braves' sloppy play. Three errors and Mulholland's nine-run performance was more than enough to waste Andruw Jones' two homers and long balls from Brian Jordan and Chipper Jones, three more hits by rookie Rafael Furcal and three singles from Javy Lopez.
"Give them credit," Jordan said. "They hit the ball in key situations, and we made more than our share of errors that cost us the game."
It was this sort of night: The Braves trailed 4-0 before they swung their bats for the first time, the nine runs charged to Mulholland were his most since 1990, and Nevin's grand slam, which keyed a five-run seventh, was the first of his career.
As if the Braves needed more bad news on a night when they out-hit the Padres 15-11, the first time since 1996 they have collected as many hits and lost, second baseman Quilvio Veras was struck on the side of his right knee by a Brian Meadows pitch in the first inning and left the game. He will have X-rays this morning and won't play tonight.
The Padres, who didn't reach their downtown Atlanta hotel until 5 a.m. Friday, used seven pitchers. Meadows, who had a 4-0 lead before he threw his first pitch, didn't figure in the decision.
It took the Braves just 11 batters and two innings to tie the game. Chipper Jones followed Veras' departure by launching a 2 and 2 delivery over the left field wall, then Furcal, riding a 9-for-17 streak in the past four games, opened the bottom of the second with a double and raced home on Keith Lockhart's roller.
Andruw Jones' 11th homer, his fifth home run this month, tied the game at 4, then Brian Jordan's third-inning homer, and back-to-back singles by Lopez and Bobby Bonilla spelled the end for Meadows.
The Braves rued the loss of Veras. Lockhart replaced the leadoff man and bounced into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play in the third, then grounded out and flied out in subsequent at-bats.
Mulholland's first-inning line -- four hits and four runs -- was somewhat deceiving. The Padres sneaked three singles through the infield for a 1-0 lead, then Bret Boone followed with a three-run homer into the right field grandstand.
Following a neat escape from a runner on third, no-out jam in the third, the 37-year-old left-hander was in more trouble in the fifth. Tony Gwynn's bases-loaded bloop fell in front of Andruw Jones, tying the game again, then Nevin's fielder's choice sent another run across the plate to make it 6-5.
"It wasn't fun out there," Mulholland said. "I made a couple of mistakes in the first inning, and it cost four runs. After that I was getting the ball where I needed to get it, but it just didn't work out."
In the seventh, Eric Owens beat out an infield hit, Ruben Rivera was hit by a pitch, and Kory DeHaan reached on Mulholland's error, leaving Bobby Cox with few options. He called in Kevin McGlinchy, who yielded a grand slam to Nevin, a ball that Andruw Jones almost caught up with at the wall.
"I thought I had it," Jones said. "I was about to catch it. My spikes didn't get a grip on the wall."
It never seemed the Braves had a grip on this game, either.
Reach Bill Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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