Missed bunt in eighth inning proves costly for Blue Jays in loss to Braves

Braves 9 Blue Jays 5

TORONTO — Despite a pair of doubles earlier in the game, Devon Travis was unable to execute when the Blue Jays needed him the most on Tuesday.

Travis was signalled to bunt with two on, no outs and Toronto trailing 6-5 in the eighth inning, but was eventually struck out by Braves reliever Arodys Vizcaino. Darwin Barney followed by lining into an inning-ending double play.

Atlanta added three runs in the ninth to defeat the Blue Jays 9-5.

“It’s nice to walk up to the plate with two doubles or two hits — whatever the case may be,” said Travis, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. “When you’re told to do a job though, especially bunting, that’s important for this team, it wins games. I’ve got to do my job it’s that simple.”

Toronto manager John Gibbons said that the rationale behind the move was to get the runners over and create a better scoring opportunity.

“Well we’re down a run, want to get the guy to third base, contact, trying run, you get a big hit, you take the lead,” said Gibbons.

Dansby Swanson hit a go-ahead home run off Danny Barnes (0-1) in the seventh inning to help the Braves (15-21) earn their fourth win in five games. Jose Ramirez (2-1) allowed an earned run on two hits over 1 2/3 innings for the win.

Toronto (17-23) erased a 5-3 deficit in the sixth on an RBI single from Barney and a weak grounder from Ezequiel Carrera, which scored Travis. The Blue Jays have dropped back-to-back games after having their season-high five-game winning streak snapped in Monday’s loss.

Matt Kemp added to the Braves lead in the ninth with a two-run double off Roberto Osuna. Nick Markakis followed up with an RBI single stretching Atlanta’s lead to 9-5.

Freddie Freeman gave the Braves a 5-2 lead in the fifth, taking Marco Estrada’s offering over the wall in centre field for a two-run shot and his 14th home run of the season.

“We’ve been playing a lot better baseball the last few games. Hopefully we can continue that at home,” said Freeman. “We’ve been swinging the bats well and the pitching is coming around. We’re all starting to play together finally.”

The two teams head to Atlanta on Wednesday for a quick two-game series.

Estrada gave up two runs in the first inning while throwing 34 pitches. He finished by allowing five earned runs on eight hits over six innings.

“It drives me crazy starting games like that, but that’s just something I need to work on,” said Estrada.

“I tend to get away with some change ups, when I’m locating the fastball, so I definitely need that. If I’m not locating the fastball down and away, it’s not going to be a good day. That’s basically what happened today.”

Kemp opened the scoring in the first with a two-run single to left scoring Ender Inciarte and Brandon Phillips. The Braves added to their lead in the fourth on a Jace Peterson RBI single.

Travis got the Blue Jays on the board in the bottom half of the fourth, doubling to left centre-field to score Kevin Pillar and Justin Smoak.

With his two doubles, Travis now holds the franchise record for the most doubles in a month by a Blue Jays second baseman with 14. He surpassed Aaron Hill’s previous mark of 11 set in September 2009.

With the Blue Jays trailing 5-2 in the fifth, Kevin Pillar took Garcia’s 1-0 pitch over the wall in left centre for his sixth home run of the season.

Note: The Blue Jays recalled OF Darrell Ceciliani from triple-A Buffalo and optioned RHP Leonel Campos to the Bisons prior to the game.

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