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Kyle Muller struggles as Braves suffer 7-3 loss to Rangers

After winning the series opener, the Braves drop two straight and the series in Texas.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Muller couldn’t escape the third inning as the Atlanta Braves suffered another disappointing loss falling 7-3 to the Texas Rangers.

Muller found himself in trouble early and it only got worse from there. Adolis Garcia singled in the first and then moved up to second on a walk by Corey Seager. Mitch Garver followed with a single of his own to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Muller struck out Nick Solak and Nathaniel Lowe to leave them stranded.

Muller’s struggles continued in the second as Andy Ibanez walked to lead off the inning and then moved up to second on a single by Charlie Culberson. Eli White worked a walk after getting the benefit of a questionable check swing call. With the bases loaded, Rick Kranitz came out to try and settle Muller down. As he started to return to the dugout, Kranitz had a parting shot for umpire Cory Blaser and was ejected.

The Rangers added two runs on a pair of groundouts to extend the deficit to 3-0. Muller issued another walk to Seager but got Mitch Garver to ground out to end the inning.

Taylor Hearn mowed through the Braves in the first two innings but they finally got something going in the third. William Contreras walked to get things started and then moved all the way to third on a double by Dansby Swanson. Hearn struck out Ronald Acuña Jr. for the first out. Matt Olson then grounded out to Culberson at third, but Contreras scored on the play to make it 3-1. Austin Riley followed with a single to left that scored Swanson to give the Braves’ their second run. Marcell Ozuna followed with another single but Ozzie Albies lined out to left to end the rally.

Muller came back out for the third, but again was unable to hold the Rangers in check. Solak singled to begin the inning and moved up to second on a walk by Nathaniel Lowe. Muller got Ibanez to pop out for the first out, but completely ignored Solak who stole third. Culberson then dropped down a bunt and Solak beat the play at home to extend the lead to 4-2. Muller struck out White for the second out but then issued his sixth walk to Semien to reload the bases.

That would be it for Muller as Brian Snitker summoned Jesse Chavez from the bullpen. Garcia then lifted a fly ball to right that Travis Demeritte was unable to flag down on a diving attempt. All three runners scored and Texas took a 7-2 lead. Chavez then got Seager to ground out to Olson to bring the inning to a merciful ending.

After walking a total of seven hitters in 19 2/3 innings at Gwinnett, Muller was never able to get comfortable in his season debut. He exited having allowed four hits, six walks and seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings.

The Braves threatened again in the fifth against Hearn as Swanson led off the inning with a single and then moved up to second on a walk by Acuña. However, Olson bounced into a 6-3 double play and Riley struck out to leave the runner stranded at third.

Hearn came into the game with a 7+ ERA, but but allowed four hits and three walks, but just two runs over five innings.

Jackson Stephens did yeoman's work on the mound for the Braves allowing three hits over three scoreless innings of relief. Darren O’Day and William Woods covered the final two innings.

The Braves added their final run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Swanson that scored Demeritte to make it 7-3.

Atlanta drops their second straight game and fall to 10-13 on the season. They will now head to New York for a critical four-game series that includes a doubleheader on Tuesday.

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