ATLANTA -- Fireworks thundered above Turner Field, but inside the Braves' clubhouse, they were nothing but a dull rumble. In an otherwise empty room, Michael Bourn sat in front of his locker. His jersey already discarded, Bourn tried to explain why Friday's 8-5, 10-inning loss to the Phillies hurt so much more than a blowout ever could.
The Braves had scored four runs off two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, hit three home runs, taken leads of 4-1 and 5-4, only to see the Phillies come back each time and ultimately win the game when John Mayberry Jr. hit a three-run home run off reliever Cristhian Martinez with two outs in the 10th. To Bourn, the Braves had been the superior team, only they walked off the field with a loss, their third in the last four games.
"Those games, they're the ones we want to have," Bourn said. "You're getting beat, 7-1, and you come back to win, 8-7. OK, you're happy about that game, but that don't happen too often.
"Those games, they're the ones we want to stick a fork in 'em."
Atlanta had its chances to put Philadelphia away, but couldn't do it.
Martin Prado and Freddie Freeman gave the Braves a 4-1 lead in the fifth when they each hit two-run home runs off Halladay, knocking him out of the game. He gave up four runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in 4 2/3 innings.
Having taken a 4-1 lead, the Braves couldn't hold it. The Phillies started the sixth with four straight singles off left-hander Mike Minor, ending his night. All but one of the runners scored and as quickly as Atlanta had taken the lead, it was gone.
"For me, it's like a checkpoint," Minor said. "If they give me runs I need to go out there and shut that inning down. Obviously it's disappointing to give up some base hits right there and then pretty much all the runners score."
Dan Uggla gave the Braves the lead back with a leadoff home run in the sixth, driving a fastball off left-hander Jeremy Horst to deep center field.
Three innings later, Atlanta handed the one-run lead to closer Craig Kimbrel. But he was unable to finish it. Erik Kratz led off the ninth, already having made a pair of big defensive plays. He ended the first by throwing out Bourn attempting to steal third and ended the fourth when he hung onto the ball on a play at the plate, even as Chipper Jones lowered his shoulder into his chest, knocking him off his feet.
Kratz fell behind Kimbrel 0-2, which typically is a ticket back to the dugout. In the 145 2/3 innings Kimbrel had pitched in his career going into Friday night, 98 batters had found themselves down 0-2 in the count to the right-hander. They were 8-for-98 with 75 strikeouts and no extra-base hits. But this time, Kimbrel challenged Kratz with a 99-mph fastball. Kratz drove it into the left field seats to tie the game at 5.
"I was trying to elevate on him and didn't go high enough," Kimbrel said. "He's a good fastball hitter and he put the barrel on it and you saw what happened."
Kimbrel retired the next three batters, but the damage was already done. He had blown just his third save of the season.
With the Braves most reliable relievers already used, manager Fredi Gonzalez turned to Martinez in the 10th. Despite a leadoff single and a balk that put a runner on second base with no outs, it looked like Martinez might escape unscathed. But Mayberry jumped on a first-pitch slider that caught too much of the plate and the Phillies had completed their comeback.
Instead, the Braves were dealt a heartbreaking loss on the eve of September. With last year's late-season breakdown still fresh in the minds of players and fans alike, the Braves are ready for another pennant race.
"Any loss is disappointing," Kimbrel said. "It's the end of August. September's here and it's time to play ball."
A few minutes after Kimbrel spoke, the clubhouse was empty, just Bourn and his search for the bright spot after the devastating loss.
"We didn't lose any ground today, you can say that's a plus," Bourn said. "You've got to be able to block [last year] out of your head. You've got to take that and throw it in the bag."
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.