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Braves drop another wild one to Cardinals, 6-3

Jake Odorizzi threw 5.2 no-hit innings before giving up a pair of runs, and Dansby Swanson’s three-run homer was the offensive highlight in another tough loss to St. Louis.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night was yet another Braves-Cardinals matchup for the books, just as we all expected.

In his third straight start impacted by a rain delay—watch out, Josh Donaldson, we might have a new bringer of rain—Jake Odorizzi posted 5.2 innings of no-hit baseball against a potent Cardinals lineup, and despite giving up a pair of runs after the ice had been broken, his start combined with a Dansby Swanson three-run homer looked to give the Braves a fighting chance at a series win. However, St. Louis prevailed after roughing up AJ Minter for four runs in his third appearance in this series.

With the loss, the Braves sit at 79-50 on the year and 3 games back of the Mets, who also lost on Sunday. The Cardinals move to 74-54.

After Adam Wainwright and Odorizzi traded one-two-three frames in the first, the Braves went on to lead off the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings with singles but were unable to score in any of them. The best chance came when Austin Riley advanced to third on an Eddie Rosario single to shallow right field with two outs in the fourth, but Vaughn Grissom grounded out to Wainwright to silence the threat.

Odorizzi, meanwhile, only allowed one baserunner into the sixth inning, and it was via a walk to Dylan Carlson with two outs in the second. After the walk, Odorizzi retired 12 straight Cardinals, striking out four of them and only taking two as far as a three-ball count—one being Nolan Gorman, whom Odorizzi struck out after a 10-pitch battle of an at-bat that featured only fastballs.

The no-hitter and scoreless tie were ultimately broken with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Lars Nootbaar hit a solo shot that only just cleared the very corner of the left field fence.

After the homer, Odorizzi gave up three straight singles, the last to Nolan Arenado to score Brendan Donovan and double the St. Louis lead. Brian Snitker then replaced Odorizzi with Dylan Lee, and he got pinch hitter Albert Pujols to pop out to Matt Olson.

By this point, the Atlanta lineup did have multiple balls hit over 100 MPH that ended in outs, so there was reason to hope that it was only a matter of time before they broke through the St. Louis devil magic. And sure enough, after runners on the corners forced Wainwright out of the game with two outs in the seventh inning, Dansby Swanson hit a two-strike, three-run homer off a 100.1 MPH Ryan Helsley pitch to give the Braves a 3-2 advantage.

Collin McHugh entered in relief of Lee in the bottom of the frame after a walk to Paul DeJong and got Yadier Molina to ground into a double play to preserve the Atlanta lead.

Helsley struck out the side in the top of the eighth, and Minter came in the game only to have Tommy Edman send his first pitch over the center field wall to tie the score back up at 3 runs each. Minter then walked Nootbaar, and Donovan laid down a bunt that Riley couldn’t quite field. While it looked like Minter might get out of the inning with the tie intact after back-to-back strikeouts of Paul Goldschmidt and Arenado, Tyler O’Neill, who had replaced Pujols after his pinch-hit pop out, blasted a three-run homer to center and gave the Cardinals a 6-3 lead.

Jay Jackson made his season debut and struck out Carlson to end the eighth, and Michael Harris II did lace a two-out double in the ninth, but it was too little, too late.

Atlanta has an off day on Monday before returning to Truist Park for a six-game homestand against the Rockies and Marlins. Max Fried is slated to face Jose Urena on Tuesday in the Colorado series opener.

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