Three Cuts: Braves fall to Dodgers; trade winds may blow for Callaspo

Braves starting pitcher Williams Perez stifled the Dodgers on Monday, allowing just one run and seven hits over six strong innings. For good measure, the Venezuelan fanned seven batters.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Here are a few random takes from the Braves’ 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday — a holiday defeat which likely marks the seasonal low point for the Atlanta bullpen:

Tie game (2-all).

Two walks allowed.

Three homers surrendered.

Ball game.

These were the tent-pole moments of the Braves’ wretched 8th, with reliever Nick Masset giving up three homers and sucking all the drama from a nip-and-tuck affair through seven innings.

First up, Andre Ethier crushed a ball over the right-center wall at the leadoff spot, boosting the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2.

Next up, Masset committed the cardinal sin of walking catcher A.J. Ellis — a .116 hitter for the season — before serving up another long ball to Alex Guerrero, who came off the bench to smack a two-run homer to left field.

Back to Ellis: You can’t allow someone like that to get on base at such a crucial point. Heck, put the ball on a tee and take your chances!

Two batters later, shortstop Jimmy Rollins rocketed an inside groove pitch into the right-field seats, capping the Dodgers’ scoring for the night.

At that point, you could almost hear the late, great and fictional Lou Brown — the lovably guff manager in the Major League movies — saying in the dugout, "I think … you can go get Masset now."

To be fair, though, Masset owned up to his foibles in the post-game media session.

"I feel like I let my team down," said Masset, who attributed the homer barrage as a simple, but complex matter of ‘flat’ fastballs.

How’s this for consistency? In Perez’s two starts (May 20 and Monday), the Venezuelan fanned seven batters and allowed just one earned run both times. The only difference: Last week’s effort against the Rays endured only five innings … while Perez went six full innings on Monday.

Not bad for a guy with a 6.14 ERA heading into the holiday weekend, and one who logged just 89 minor-league starts from 2009-15.

Perez was a rock-solid performer against the Dodgers (27-17, 1st place in the NL West), retiring his final four batters and never facing more than five hitters after the first inning. The opening frame was admittedly rocky, with the 24-year-old walking home a run (scoring Jimmy Rollins) … but that would be the sole damage on Perez’s resume.

Early troubles aside, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was pleased with Perez’s overall effort.

"He bounced back, and he did a nice job," said Gonzalez of Perez, while praising his starter’s stealth mix of pitches against Los Angeles.

Perez appeared to get stronger as the outing rolled on, as well, striking out four total Dodgers in the final two innings.

When assessing Perez’s cumulative work of the last week, Gonzalez marveled, "It’s been better than I expected … so far, I’ve liked the way he’s pitched."

Gonzalez then added: "We’ll run him back out there in another (five) days."

It’s a fair question to ask: Is there really a market for a 32-year-old infielder with marginal tallies in batting average (.206), on-base percentage (.293), slugging (.252), homers (one), RBI (eight) and OPS (.545)?

Apparently, yes.

When talking to the L.A.-based media, Gonzalez revealed that Callaspo — in his first season with the Braves — was held out Monday as an injury precaution.

Without any inside information, here’s an educated guess to the mystery suitor: the defending AL champion Royals.

Up Next: Braves @ Dodgers

**In his 10-year career, Callaspo has sublime numbers against the Tigers (7 HR/28 RBI/31 runs/.298 batting/.357 OBP) and Twins (8 HR/33 RBI/44 runs/.314 batting/.366 OBP) — both AL Central rivals and potential playoff foes come October.

**When perusing Kansas City’s active depth chart, Christian Colon serves as the backup at third base, second base and shortstop.

Yes, Atlanta (22-22, 3rd place in the NL East) had the second-fewest team strikeouts in baseball heading into Monday (trailing only the Royals). And yes, the Braves struck out on only four times in the opener against the Dodgers.

However, the name of the game still involves finding ways to score; and of their last seven outings, the Braves (11 baserunners on Monday) have plated three or fewer runs six times.

That’s not a recipe for consistent winning — even if Shelby Miller (5-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 48/18 K-BB) suddenly resembles Greg Maddux in his prime.

We don’t have much to say in this mini-section — the highlight of Peterson’s amazing stab off Adrian Gonzalez’s shallow-outfield flubber speaks for itself.

We simply needed a reason to post the link.