ATLANTA - Welcome to the show, kid.
Joey Devine - a 21-year-old rookie called up Saturday morning from Double AA Mississippi to help the Braves' struggling bullpen - surrendered a grand slam to Xavier Nady in the top of the 13th inning as the San Diego Padres defeated the Braves 7-2 Saturday afternoon at Turner Field.
It was a gut-wrenching finish to a major league debut. Devine, the Braves' first pick in the June draft out of North Carolina State, became the first Brave since Bob Horner in 1978 to make his debut in the same year that he was drafted.
Manager Bobby Cox, who decided to give Devine an immediate test when the contest was tied 2-2, said Devine pitched well.
"Devine had a great game. He was very impressive," Cox said. "From what I saw today, he can help us."
In the 12th inning, the rookie did pitch well, allowing a single to former Brave Robert Fick after a groundout by Nady. After Manuel Olivo was called out for interfering with catcher Brian McCann, Devine got former Brave Ryan Klesko to ground out with a high, tight fast ball.
Devine acknowledged that he made a bad pitch to Nady in the 13th.
"I didn't get it up enough and pretty much left it over the heart of the plate, " said Devine of the fast ball to Nady, who was 0-for-5 on the day before his 415-foot blast to center field.
Devine seemed to take his first loss well.
"You just have to keep your head up and go out there again," he said. "I'm going to learn from the negatives."
Overshadowed by the outcome was the excellent performance of left-handed starter Horacio Ramirez, who pitched eight innings for the Braves, allowing only two runs on six hits and keeping the much-maligned bullpen out of the fray until late.
"At the time I was relieved to give the pen a little break," Ramirez said. "Then it went into extra innings,"
Devine entered the game after Kyle Farnsworth, Chris Reitsma and Blaine Boyer kept the Padres in check.
Reliever Rudy Seanez (5-1) got the win. The Padres' Pedro Astacio pitched six solid innings, giving up only two earned runs in six innings.
The Braves lone spurt of offense came in the sixth, when Rafael Furcal lined a homer down the right-field line on an 0-1 pitch from Astacio.
Marcus Giles singled to left and rookie Jeff Francoeur drove him home with a single to right-center with two outs.
Devine became the 16th rookie to play for the Braves this season.
The Braves have lost four of their past five and are 5-6 on their longest homestand of the season, which ends today against the NL-West leading Padres. The Braves are 8-10 during August, which features 16 home games.
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