ATLANTA -- For all of Bobby Cox's good vibrations about hisbullpen, there's a curious lack of a killer instinct among therelievers.
That was demonstrated in Monday night's 5-4 loss to thecellar-dwelling Cincinnati Reds, a game the Braves led 3-0 before therelief corps turned elation into dejection, burying a modest two-gamehome winning streak beneath a five-run eighth inning in front of astartled crowd of 37,052 at Turner Field.
Mike Remlinger was the main culprit, allowing four runs while notretiring a batter, though Jose Cabrera added to the carnage by givingup a two-run single to pinch hitter Todd Walker that sent the Reds infront.
"That's life in the bullpen," said Remlinger, who fell to 3-2."As good as things can be, it only takes one day to completely changeit around. You try to keep it in perspective by winning games."
The loss, just the Braves' second in their last seven games, wastheir fourth this season when leading after seven innings. Coupled withthe Phillies' 3-0 loss to the Expos, the Braves' lead in the NL Eastremained two games.
The blown save was the bullpen's 15th of the season, one more thanlast year.
"As a starting pitcher, it's probably the most frustrating thingyou have to deal with," said Tom Glavine, who pitched seven inningsand allowed just one run. He left in the eighth with a blister on hisleft index finger. "Losing stinks, regardless of how you do it. Buthaving a lead late in a game and losing it is more painful than theother way."
Up, 3-0, in the eighth, Glavine allowed a leadoff single to AdamDunn, the Reds' heralded rookie outfielder, and gave way to Remlinger.Ken Griffey Jr. then ripped a 1 and 2 changeup into the right fieldcorner for a triple, Sean Casey singled to make it 3-2, and Aaron Boonewalked.
Dmitri Young followed with a bouncer to third baseman ChipperJones, whose off-balance throw pulled second baseman Marcus Giles offthe base. Jason LaRue followed with a single, and Remlinger departed toa smattering of boos.
Walker greeted Cabrera with a single through the right side,sending in Boone and Young, then D.T. Cromer's sacrifice fly to centermade it 5-3.
Cox, reviewing Remlinger's work, credited the reliever with doinghis job.
"Remlinger got three ground balls," Cox said, testing theboundaries of credibility. "The first two found holes, and the thirdwas a double-play ball."
The Braves rallied for a run in the eighth, and had runners onfirst and third in the ninth when Reds closer Danny Graves coaxed aroller to second from Jones to end the game.
"The key to this is how we bounce back tomorrow and the nextday," Glavine said.
Reds starter Elmer Dessens, a 3-1 loser to the Braves in Cincinnatilast week, ran into trouble in the first. Giles singled, and two outslater Brian Jordan grounded a single through the right side, sending inGiles.
Then in the second, after Javy Lopez singled, and Mark DeRosaslammed a double past third baseman Boone, Cox played poker with Redsmanager Bob Boone. With Lopez moving off third, Glavine bunted an0 and 1 delivery foul. Boone might have called for a pitch-out at thispoint, but he guessed (incorrectly) that Cox wouldn't call for asuicide-squeeze twice in a row.
Glavine bunted the 0 and 2 offering to the left side as Lopezsteamed home, making it 2-0.
Boone gained a measure of revenge in the fourth by asking crewchief Jerry Crawford to have the grounds crew redraw the catcher's box.It was an obvious ploy to irritate Glavine and Lopez, but it had noeffect.
"Just another example of worrying about the wrong things inbaseball," Glavine said. "It's a waste of time and has nothing to dowith the game. I'm not paying attention to where Javy's feet are, I'mpaying attention to where his glove is, and it's on the plate."
The Braves broke through against Dessens again in the fifth. DeRosasingled, Glavine bunted, and Giles sent a single to right, DeRosastopping at third. B.J. Surhoff followed with a fly to right, DeRosaeasily beating Dunn's heave to the plate.
Reach Bill Zack at email@example.com.