The Braves offense hasn't been the problem too many times over the past 6 weeks, but they had a hard time stringing any production together Wednesday night, as the Diamondbacks took the second game of this 3-game series, 5-3.
The game started with three-up, three-down innings from both starters in the first. Morton would find his first trouble immediately in the second, however, after Christian Walker led off the frame with a sharp double to centerfield. It looked like Morton might escape after getting the next two hitters on a fly-out and a strikeout, but Gabriel Moreno shot a ball down the first-base line for an RBI ground-rule double, and Arizona had an early 1-0 lead.
Marcel Ozuna immediately responded in the bottom half, however, launching a 1-0 breaking ball over the right-center field fence to tie the game, 1-1. It was Ozuna’s 18th home-run of the season.
The tie didn't last long however, as Morton found himself in more trouble in the 3rd. After a 1-out single from Jake McCarthy, Morton got the second out, but then issued back-to-back 2-out walks to Corbin Carrol and Walker. Lourdes Gurriel Jr made him pay for those walks by roping a 2-out double down the left-field line, scoring two and giving Arizona a 3-1 lead.
The Braves offense went ice-cold at this point in the game, making ten consecutive outs from the bottom of 3rd to the bottom of the 6th.
In the meantime, Arizona added on a fourth run in the 6th inning after a walk to Evan Longoria, a single from Moreno, and an RBI double from Nick Ahmed, all coming with 2 out in the inning. That was a theme for the evening.
Morton’s final line was 5.2 innings, 6 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. Not terrible considering what the Braves had been getting from their starters lately, but probably not all Charlie was looking for.
Atlanta didn't get back on the board until the bottom of the 7th, when Austin Riley continued his resurgence with solo blast to left-center field, making it 4-2 Arizona. It was Riley’s 19th homer of the season.
One of the few bright spots in the stretch of baseball for Atlanta is it looks like Austin Riley did not in fact forget how to play baseball. So that's good.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, that's where the fun stopped. Arizona added a fifth run in the 8th on a, wait for it, 2-out RBI single from Ahmed. All 5 runs scored by Arizona tonight came with 2 out.
The Braves went quietly in the 8th and despite a mini-rally in the ninth where they scored one and brought the tying run to the plate, they came up short and dropped their 4th game in a row. Braves fall to 61-33 on the season.
The only positive news lately is, even though the Braves are on one of their worst stretches of the season, the division hasn't made them pay for it. When this losing streak started four games ago the Braves had a 9.5 lead in the division. But Miami has lost 6 games in row, failing to make up any ground in this stretch, and while Philadelphia had been hot enough to catch Miami, the Braves still hold a 9.5 game division lead as both teams lost tonight.
Atlanta tries to avoid a sweep tomorrow as Zac Gallen goes against Spencer Strider at 12:20 pm Thursday afternoon.