PHILADELPHIA - The worn, exasperated look Braves manager Bobby Cox sported as he extracted starter Horacio Ramirez from Saturday's game told you everything you needed to know about the left-hander's brief, unimpressive day.
Ramirez struggled with control and failed to make timely pitches against Philadelphia, succumbing after 4w innings and six earned runs. The Phillies easily defeated Atlanta, 6-3.
As Ramirez headed to the dugout, Cox stood atop the mound, slowly wagging his head as he stared off into the blue sky over Philly.
"He was inconsistent today. He had too many bad pitches," Cox said. "Just the minute you think he's getting it going in a ballgame, he makes a bad pitch."
The same could be said for the 25-year-old's season, his third in the majors and first coming back from off-season shoulder surgery.
After being up-and-down in the first part of the year, it looked as if Ramirez had turned a corner in his two recent starts against Florida.
He gave up a run in seven innings Monday to beat the Marlins in Miami. He threw five scoreless in the outing before that.
"The last two games were my best all season, to me," Ramirez said. "I expected to come in here and go deep in the game and keep the team in it, but that wasn't the case."
A Pat Burrell solo home run to lead off the second inning - the first hit Ramirez allowed - was a taste of things to come.
Catcher Johnny Estrada set up inside, but Ramirez's fastball sailed over the plate, where it met Burrell's bat. From there, Ramirez got more erratic.
He went on to give up eight hits and three walks. One, to catcher Todd Pratt in the fourth, was intentional to get to pitcher Brett Myers.
Myers laced a two-out fastball into right field for an RBI single, a sort of next-to-last straw.
The final one came with two outs in the fifth, when Phillies third baseman David Bell stuck a 1-2 pitch in the left field seats for a three-run homer.
Ramirez dropped to 7-5 and saw his ERA climb to 5.09.
Ramirez is a necessary cog, Cox said, for the Braves since the team has three starters on the disabled list.
"He's got to get it together here," Cox said.
ESTRADA FALLOUT: Cox continued to say Saturday that he didn't think there should be any punishment for catcher Johnny Estrada's verbal altercation Thursday with home plate umpire Doug Eddings.
"There shouldn't be anything," Cox said. "We'll let (the league office) handle it."
Cox, Estrada and pitcher Mike Hampton were ejected after Estrada, apparently provoked by Eddings, rose up and got in Eddings' face.
"Johnny doesn't show up any umpire," Cox said. "That's what doesn't add up."
The Fourth info: In preparation for Monday's "All American 4th of July Extravaganza" at Turner Field, fans are strongly encouraged to arrive early and consider carpooling or taking MARTA.
A sellout is expected for the 7:35 p.m. game against Chicago, and a portion of the stadium's parking lots will be used for the postgame fireworks display.
On deck: Jorge Sosa (4-1, 2.78) will start tonight against Philadelphia's Robinson Tejeda (1-1, 2.35) in a battle of relievers that were turned into starters because of injuries to other pitchers.
Sosa gave up one run in six innings Tuesday to beat Florida and outduel the Marlins' Dontrelle Willis, one of the NL's best first-half pitchers.
Contact Travis Haney at email@example.com.