ATLANTA -- In the long run, a bad start against the Atlanta Braves on a rainy Friday night probably won’t affect A.J. Burnett’s trade value all that much.
After all, the guy is in his 16th big-league season and the book on him is as thick as a 48-ounce Porterhouse. Rival teams know who he is and what he can do.
But two weeks before the trade deadline, it’s always preferable when a very available pitcher turns in a quality outing. Burnett failed to do that as the Phillies came back from the All-Star break and suffered a 6-4 loss to the Braves at Turner Field (see Instant Replay).
“Everything was up, man,” Burnett said after giving up 10 hits and six runs in five innings. “Everything was up and I was off. The changeups were up. The curveball was up. A few innings in the middle I got it where I wanted to, but I was inconsistent, and you can't pitch against this club and be inconsistent."
Burnett entered the game on a nice roll, recording seven straight quality starts.
He was presented with a tidy 2-0 lead in the second inning, but that didn’t last long. Burnett allowed a leadoff home run to Jason Heyward in the bottom of the second then gave up four two-out hits, including one to the opposing pitcher, and three more runs as his 2-0 lead became a 4-2 deficit.
“You want to come out when you get an early lead and put up a shutdown inning and I just didn’t do it,” he said. “No excuses. I just didn’t get it done.”
Nine of the 10 hits that Burnett allowed came with two outs. Five of the six runs he allowed came with two outs.
“A pitch here, and a pitch there ... you have to make pitches,” he said. “I was in counts where you have to make pitches, and I just didn't."
Burnett appeared to be angry, possibly with catcher Cameron Rupp, after he left the game. Burnett said he was angry with himself.
“Six runs in five innings,” he said. “That was pretty much the reason. No excuses. I just didn’t get it done.”
Manager Ryne Sandberg also said Burnett was simply frustrated with himself.
"Ten hits and six runs," Sandberg said. "He labored."
With their top two catchers on the disabled list, the Phillies have been using Rupp and Koyie Hill at the position. Both could be headed back to Triple A in the coming week as Carlos Ruiz and Wil Nieves are expected to soon come off the disabled list.
With the loss, the Phillies fell to 12 games under .500 and 11 games back in the division.
The only drama now is who will be here in two weeks when the trade deadline arrives. The Phillies have three starting pitchers who could go -- Burnett, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick. They have a pair of relievers -- Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon -- who could be had. They have a power bat on the block in Marlon Byrd.
Byrd went hitless with a strikeout and a walk Friday night. The Phillies had just six hits.
Ryan Howard, who entered the game hitting .141 in his previous 21 games, had a walk and a two-run single against winning pitcher Ervin Santana in the sixth inning. The single was a broken-bat hit, but Howard still swung the bat better than in recent games. He lined out to right in the eighth. Heyward made a terrific diving catch to rob Howard of a hit.
Cole Hamels pitches for the Phillies on Saturday night.
“The guys bounce back each day, that’s been the demeanor of the team,” Sandberg said. “Come back tomorrow. We have Cole on the mound, so we’ll look forward to that.”