PHOENIX (AP) — Craig Kimbrel has been as close to automatic as any closer in the game over the past four years.
Yet, as Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez pointed out: “He’s human, right?”
One night after becoming the Braves’ career leader in saves, Kimbrel blew one Saturday night and Atlanta went on to lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 in 11 innings.
It was the third blown save in 19 tries for Kimbrel this season and just his 18th in 173 opportunities in his career – still the third-best percentage of any closer with at least 150 tries.
This one, he said, will be forgotten in a hurry.
“You’ve still got to go out there and do your job no matter how bad you felt about what happened the day before,” Kimbrel said. “We put this game behind us and come out and win the series tomorrow.”
Kimbrel, who earned a four-out save in Atlanta’s 5-2 victory Friday night, got Chris Owings to fly out to start the ninth. But Ender Inciarte walked and stole second, then Hill sliced one just inside the right-field foul line for a double to bring Inciarte home.
“You don’t walk guys and let them steal second,” Kimbrell said. “That’s kind of what happens when you let a guy get two free bases like that.”
Arizona was 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position before Hill’s big hit.
Jason Heyward homered off Addison Reed in the 10th to put Atlanta up 3-2, but Arizona’s Miguel Montero answered with an opposite-field shot to left off Anthony Varvaro.
Gerardo Parra ended it with a bloop single off David Carpenter that brought Cody Ross home from second.
“That broken-bat hit there at the end, it looks like a line drive tomorrow,” Heyward said.
The Diamondbacks were 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position before Hill’s hit.
Montero was 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position up to that time.
“I was already pretty mad at the plate already because I left so many guys on base,” he said. “I really was thinking about hitting a homer. I am not going to lie.”
Ross singled with one out off Carpenter (4-1), then Didi Gregorius walked to bring up Parra, whose soft flyball fell in front of center fielder B.J. Upton.
“Yes, it broke my bat,” Parra said. “It was inside like 97 (mph) and I wanted to just make contact and put it in play.”
Randall Delgado (1-1) struck out the side after a leadoff walk in the 11th to get the victory.
Inciarte was called safe on a bunt to start the 11th, but Gonzalez challenged and the call was reversed. It didn’t matter as Arizona went on to score the winner.
Starters Ervin Santana of Atlanta and Wade Miley of Arizona had strong outings. Santana gave up only an unearned run in seven innings, scattering six hits. Miley allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits in seven innings, fanning six with no walks.
The Braves took a 2-1 lead when, with two outs in the sixth, Justin Upton singled to right, then scored from first on Evan Gattis’ second double of the night.
Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla committed two errors, one leading to a run but made a standout play to get Inciarte at first in the challenged play in the 11th.
Martin Prado led off the second with a single, took second on David Peralta’s base hit, then scored when Uggla threw the ball away trying to convert a double play on a fielder’s choice groundout by Inciarte.
Atlanta tied it in the third when Andrelton Simmons doubled, took third on the right fielder Parra’s errant throw, then scored on Heyward’s grounder, sliding in barely below the catcher Montero’s tag after a high throw from the third baseman Prado.
NOTES: Peralta has a hit in each of his first six big league games. … In Sunday’s series finale, Arizona’s Chase Anderson (4-0, 3.32 ERA), winner of his first four major league starts, tries to make it five, while the Braves counter with Aaron Harang (4-4, 3.24). … It was Prado’s bobblehead night.