ATLANTA – Brooks Conrad stood near second base, all alone. He didn’t dare go near Braves manager Bobby Cox, standing on the mound making a pitching change. Finally, teammate Derrek Lee wandered over, giving Conrad a pat on the back.
Nothing helped. All Conrad could do was bend over in anguish.
“I wish I could just dig a hole,” he said, “and sleep in it.”
The Braves were within one out of taking control of the N.L. division series, but a 30-year-old journeyman infielder who wouldn’t have been playing if not for season-ending injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado simply couldn’t catch the ball Sunday.
Conrad made three errors, the last of them on a two-out grounder in the ninth inning that gave the San Francisco Giants a 3-2 victory over Atlanta.
“It was completely embarrassing,” said Conrad, who has made eight errors in the last seven games. “Once again, I feel like I let everyone down.”
He bobbled a grounder in the first, but that one didn’t hurt. He dropped a popup the next inning, allowing an unearned run to score. Finally, Buster Posey’s hard grounder skidded under Conrad’s glove, bringing home the run that capped San Francisco’s two-run ninth.
“I thought he would make the play,” Posey said. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”
Brian Wilson shut down the Braves in the ninth to give the Giants a 2-1 lead in a tense best-of-5 series in which all three games have been decided by one run.
San Francisco can close it out tonight. For Conrad, the memories of this one will linger for a lifetime. He tied a postseason record for errors in a game and became the fourth second baseman to make three, according to STATS LLC.
Those blunders might just speed up the retirement of Cox, whose long managing career ends as soon as Atlanta’s season is done.
“We had this one won,” Cox said. “We can win games and we can compete against anybody. But we can’t afford to make mistakes.”
Atlanta did nothing against Jonathan Sanchez, managing only two hits in 7 1/3 innings and trailing 1-0. But when pinch-hitter Eric Hinske lined a two-run homer off Sergio Romo in the eighth, the Braves suddenly had the lead.
Rookie reliever Craig Kimbrel was within one out of a save before the Giants rallied.
Aubrey Huff tied it with a run-scoring single off Mike Dunn.
Then, Posey hit a grounder to just the right man.
“I’ve never experienced that range of emotions on a baseball field,” Atlanta outfielder Matt Diaz said.
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