ATLANTA -- After lining out hard to center field with two runners on base to end the Atlanta Braves' 10th straight loss, Chipper Jones refused to blame the bullpen.
No need. Another bullpen meltdown was already apparent for all to see.
The relievers gave up two runs in the eighth following a strong start by Horacio Ramirez as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied for a 3-2 win Thursday night that left Atlanta with 10 straight losses for the first time in 18 years.
With the blown save by Mike Remlinger, the Braves are only 15 for 30 in save opportunities, setting up a prime opportunity for finger-pointing in the Braves' clubhouse.
"We're not going to do that," Jones said. "We're a team. We talked about it among ourselves. ... This is our team. This is what we've got and we've got to go out and play with it. There's not going to be any finger-pointing."
Ramirez held Toronto to one run in 6 2/3 innings. Tyler Yates recorded the final out in the seventh, but Chad Paronto walked the only batter he faced on four pitches to open the eighth and set up the blown save and loss by Remlinger (2-4), who gave up two hits and was charged with the go-ahead run.
With the loss, the Braves have been swept in three straight series of at least three games for the first time since 1977. They have lost 10 straight games for the first time since an 0-10 start to the 1988 season, and they fell 15 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets.
The beleaguered bullpen, which began the night with a 5.29 ERA, including a 6.49 mark this month, even affected manager Bobby Cox's offensive strategy.
After Ryan Langerhans led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield hit, Cox decided to play for two runs instead of one. Cox sent Langerhans on a hit-and-run that failed when Marcus Giles didn't swing at Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan's pitch, and Langerhans was easily thrown out at second.
The play hurt even more when Matt Diaz and Edgar Renteria hit two-out singles before Jones' game-ending liner to center.
"I wasn't playing to tie there, not with the way our bullpen has been going," Cox said. "I wanted two runs there."
Toronto welcomed back starter A.J. Burnett, who was pitching for the first time since April 21. He gave up only five hits and two runs in six innings. Burnett, who struck out seven, showed no signs of the soreness in his right elbow that caused him to go on the disabled list on April 22.
"It was just fun to be out there for six innings and be a part of our first sweep," Burnett said. "I thought I threw the ball well. I didn't try to overdo it."
In the eighth inning, Paronto walked Toronto leadoff batter Bengie Molina, who was replaced by pinch-runner John McDonald. The Braves' second reliever of the inning, Remlinger, gave up a single to Lyle Overbay on his first pitch, followed by Aaron Hill's game-tying single to right.
After Russ Adams' sacrifice bunt, Remlinger gave an intentional walk to Reed Johnson to load the bases. Alex Rios followed with a grounder to second off Kenny Ray, driving in Overbay for a 3-2 lead.
"Against any bullpen we like to feel we can score some runs, not just these guys," said Johnson, who was 3-for-3 with two walks. "We recognize they have been struggling."
The Blue Jays completed their first series sweep of the season as they ended a 3-3 road trip and moved to three games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. They had failed on nine previous tries to complete sweeps.
"It feels like the monkey is off our backs," Johnson said. "Hopefully, we will get more. We need to. That's what the Red Sox and Yankees do."
Ty Taubenheim (1-4) recorded two outs in the seventh for his first win. Despite the ninth-inning trouble, Ryan got the final three outs for his 20th save -- and third of the series -- in 21 chances.
Ramirez made his first start since June 11, when he was hit on his head by Lance Berkman's line drive, knocking the left-hander out of the game.
Toronto, which leads the major leagues with its .331 batting average against left-handers, managed only seven hits off Ramirez.
Ramirez threw 105 pitches in six innings but remained in the game for the seventh, another decision possibly influenced by the bullpen.
The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
With one out, Burnett hit Chipper Jones' left foot with a pitch. Andruw Jones' infield hit and Brian McCann's single to left loaded the bases. Jeff Francouer's grounder to short forced McCann out at second but allowed Chipper Jones to score. Adam LaRoche drove in Andruw Jones with a grounder past Hillenbrand at third base that was ruled a hit.
The Blue Jays cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth. Overbay's single to left drove in Glaus, who led off with a double to left.
Chipper Jones had two strikeouts on called third strikes for the second straight game. ... Taubenheim, who has made five starts, earned the win in his third relief appearance.
|Players of the Game|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Reed Johnson, LF-RF||3||0||3||0||2||0||0||.379|
|Alex Rios, RF||4||0||0||0||0||0||4||.319|
|a- Frank Catalanotto, PH-LF||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||.325|
|Vernon Wells, CF||4||0||0||0||1||1||2||.320|
|Troy Glaus, SS-3B||3||1||2||0||2||1||0||.255|
|Shea Hillenbrand, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||6||.318|
|Ty Taubenheim, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Scott Schoeneweis, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Justin Speier, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Eric Hinske, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.253|
|B.J. Ryan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Bengie Molina, C||1||0||0||0||3||0||3||.298|
|John McDonald, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.238|
|Gregg Zaun, C||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.330|
|Lyle Overbay, 1B||4||1||3||1||1||1||0||.290|
|Aaron Hill, 2B-SS||4||0||1||1||1||0||4||.280|
|A.J. Burnett, P||3||0||0||0||0||1||5||.000|
|Scott Downs, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Russ Adams, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.248|
|a-hit into fielder's choice for Rios in the 8th|
|b-struck out for Speier in the 9th|
|2B - Troy Glaus (15, Ramirez), Lyle Overbay (14, Ramirez)|
|SH - Russ Adams (1)|
|RBI - Frank Catalanotto (31), Lyle Overbay (38), Aaron Hill (20)|
|CS - Reed Johnson (1, 2nd base by Ramirez/McCann)|
|Team LOB - 14|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Ty Taubenheim (W,1-4)||0.2||1||0||0||0||0||0||4.56|
|Scott Schoeneweis (H,15)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||6.08|
|Justin Speier (H,14)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.51|
|B.J. Ryan (S,20)||1||3||0||0||0||1||0||0.49|
|HBP - Jones (by A.J. Burnett)|
|Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Burnett 91-53, Scott Downs 15-7, Ty Taubenheim 7-5, Scott Schoeneweis 1-1, Justin Speier 6-4, B.J. Ryan 17-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Burnett 8-3, Scott Downs 1-0, Ty Taubenheim 2-0|
|Batters Faced - A.J. Burnett 25, Scott Downs 3, Ty Taubenheim 3, Scott Schoeneweis 1, Justin Speier 2, B.J. Ryan 5|
|Wilson Betemit, 2B||3||0||1||0||1||1||0||.289|
|Chad Paronto, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Remlinger, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kenny Ray, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Matt Diaz, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.358|
|Edgar Renteria, SS||5||0||1||0||0||1||1||.306|
|Chipper Jones, 3B||4||1||0||0||0||2||5||.275|
|Andruw Jones, CF||4||1||3||0||0||0||0||.287|
|Brian McCann, C||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.359|
|Jeff Francoeur, RF||4||0||0||1||0||2||3||.250|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.239|
|Scott Thorman, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.133|
|Ryan Langerhans, LF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.253|
|Horacio Ramirez, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.273|
|Tyler Yates, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Marcus Giles, PH-2B||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.242|
|a-singled for Ray in the 9th|
|b-grounded out for Yates in the 7th|
|2B - Wilson Betemit (12, Burnett), Andruw Jones (13, Taubenheim), Scott Thorman (1, Downs)|
|RBI - Jeff Francoeur (55), Adam LaRoche (38)|
|2-OUT RBI - Adam LaRoche (18)|
|CS - Ryan Langerhans (2, 2nd base by Ryan/Zaun)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|DP - Jones-Betemit-LaRoche, Renteria-Betemit-LaRoche|
|E - Chipper Jones (11, Wild throw)|
|Tyler Yates (H,1)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.50|
|Mike Remlinger (BS,3; L,2-4)||0.1||2||1||1||1||0||0||4.03|
|IBB - Hill by Horacio Ramirez, Johnson by Mike Remlinger|
|Pitches-Strikes - Horacio Ramirez 126-66, Tyler Yates 1-1, Chad Paronto 4-0, Mike Remlinger 8-4, Kenny Ray 33-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Horacio Ramirez 6-7, Mike Remlinger 1-0, Kenny Ray 1-3|
|Batters Faced - Horacio Ramirez 31, Tyler Yates 1, Chad Paronto 1, Mike Remlinger 4, Kenny Ray 7|
|Attendance - 26829|
|Game Time - 3:14|
|Temperature - 82|
|Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Joe West, Second Base - Ed Rapuano, Third Base - Tony Randazzo|