MILWAUKEE - After two days of cruising, this Braves' trip gave way to unforeseen calamity Saturday night, when second baseman Marcus Giles fractured his right clavicle in a collision with center fielder Andruw Jones and will be out six-to-eight weeks.
Just like that, the satisfaction of a third straight win, an 11-6 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park, was replaced by a sea of grim faces in a solemn clubhouse.
"A freak accident," said Giles, whose right arm was in a sling afterward. "I didn't hear him, I didn't hear anything. I have to keep going until I hear him. They're saying six to eight weeks, and obviously my approach is going to be sooner than that."
Giles sustained the fracture, along with a mild concussion and a bruised right hand, during an ill-advised trip into shallow center field chasing Wes Helms' soft fly. Instead of giving way to Jones, a six-time Gold Glove winner, Giles crashed into him and was down for several minutes.
Jones apparently suffered no ill effects, but Giles, who collided with Cubs pitcher Mark Prior last July 11 and suffered a mild concussion, will go on the disabled list today.
"He was trying to make a miraculous play," manager Bobby Cox said. "Andruw probably could have gotten it, but (Giles) always goes a long ways out there. It's a tough one, losing Gilly."
Giles was replaced by rookie Nick Green, who was on hand because backups infielder Jesse Garcia is on bereavement leave. Green, whose run-scoring single in the fifth inning was his first major league hit and RBI, may stick around now with Giles out.
Giles' absence in the short run will likely mean more playing time for Garcia, who will probably shift from shortstop to second. Cox also has another option.
Green was leading the International League in batting when he was called up from Class AAA Richmond Friday, though he doesn't have Garcia's defensive skills.
"It's going to be hard not seeing (Giles) play," backup catcher Eddie Perez said. "This is bad. I saw that play and I knew something bad had happened."
The Braves, meanwhile, have won three straight for just the second time this season. This one turned on a strong performance by the bullpen, long balls from Jones and Johnny Estrada, who delivered a career-high five hits and knocked in five runs, and four doubles by Adam LaRoche, tying the major league record.
There also was the matter of seven walks issued by Russ Ortiz, four in the first inning, when the Brewers scored two runs with only one hit.
"A bad day," said Ortiz, whose earned run average rose from 4.42 to 5.18. "I can't explain it, but we won, so who cares?"
Staked to a 5-0 lead before he even came out of the visitors dugout, the 6-foot-1-inch righthander had more than his share of control problems in lasting just 1q innings, matching the shortest outing of his career.
Ortiz, who had walked a total of 19 batters in his first seven starts, walked half the batters he faced and allowed four runs on three hits.
Reach Bill Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org.