The best the Braves can do is salvage a split of their four-game series against one of the worst teams in the majors when they face the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
Renteria is expected to miss the game after he aggravated a right ankle injury during the first pitch of his first at-bat in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Reds. The veteran shortstop had been activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game.
Ankle trouble has forced him to miss 17 games this month. He told the Braves’ official Web site after the game that “it just popped.”
“I’ve still got a little pain and it feels a little weak,” said Renteria, who believes he won’t be available until next week.
Renteria is tied for the NL lead with a .336 batting average, and has hit .398 in 21 games since the All-Star break.
Atlanta (66-61) was hoping Renteria’s return would provide help in chipping away at its deficit in the playoff chase. The Braves are in third place in the NL East, six games behind the division-leading New York Mets, and are two games behind the San Diego Padres for the wild card.
Atlanta, which failed to make the playoffs last year for the first time in a non-strike season since 1990, has lost five of its last seven games.
“There’s no more ‘We’ll get ‘em tomorrow,’” said catcher Brian McCann, who homered Wednesday but also committed an error that led to a run for Cincinnati. “If we want to get to the postseason, where everybody wants to be, we have to start playing better baseball.”
Only four teams in baseball have worse records than the Reds (56-70), but Atlanta has been unable to take advantage as it’s lost the last two games.
Bronson Arroyo pitched just 5 1-3 innings to get the win, one of his shorter outings of the season, but it was the longest a Reds starter has lasted in this series. Bobby Livingston went 4 2-3 innings on Tuesday and Phil Dumatrait pitched only two innings on Monday.
With a weary bullpen, Cincinnati hopes Elizardo Ramirez (0-1, 3.86 ERA) can chew up some innings. This will be the 24-year-old right-hander’s third appearance and second start for the Reds this season. He started Saturday against Milwaukee and lost, allowing three runs and five hits in five innings of an 8-4 defeat.
“I liked Ramirez,” Reds manager Pete Mackanin said. “I thought he threw a lot of strikes, a lot of quality strikes.
Elizardo’s only other appearance this season was a two-inning relief outing Aug. 1 against Washington. All three of his appearances against the Braves have come in relief, posting a 3.86 ERA without a decision in seven innings.
The Braves will counter with Buddy Carlyle (7-5, 4.66), who tries to avoid losing his third straight start. Carlyle has been tagged for 12 runs—eight earned—and 16 hits over 9 1-3 innings in his last two outings.
The right-hander has not made it past the fifth inning in his last four starts. Carlyle’s only appearance against the Reds was Sept. 20, 1999, when he allowed four runs and six hits in five innings of a 12-1 loss while with San Diego.