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Braves come up short in 6-4 loss to Cubs

Atlanta had plenty of opportunities, but were unable to cash in.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Morton was unable to make it out of the fifth inning and the Atlanta Braves came up short in a 6-4 loss Sunday afternoon to the Chicago Cubs.

Morton got off to a good start with a pair of scoreless innings to start the game. The Braves got on the board first in the third as Ronald Acuña Jr. singled and then swiped his 53rd stolen base of the season. After a strikeout by Ozzie Albies and a fly out by Austin Riley, Matt Olson came to the plate and delivered his 39th homer of the year to put Atlanta in front 2-0.

The Cubs would answer right back in the home half of the inning. Morton struck out Nick Madrigal to start the inning, but then walked Miguel Amaya and then allowed a single to Mike Tauchman. He then hit Nico Hoerner with a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Ian Happ then grounded into a force out, but beat the relay throw to first. Amaya scored to cut the lead to 2-1.

Morton pitched around Bellinger to load the bases again, but then lost Dansby Swanson on a 3-2 pitch to force in the tying run. Jeimer Candelario flew out to left to avoid any further damage.

Morton regained his form in the fourth retiring the side in order and the Braves retook the lead in the fifth. Acuña got things started with a double. Albies followed with a single to right, but Acuña was gunned down at the plate on a nice throw by Tauchman. Albies moved to second as Riley reached on an error by Madrigal at third. Olson made them pay with a single to left that scored Albies to put Atlanta back in front 3-2.

The Cubs again answered back against Morton. Tauchman singled to begin the inning and then stole second. He moved to third on a ground out and then scored on a single by Ian Happ to tie the game. Cody Bellinger brought home another run with an RBI double to give Chicago a 4-3 lead. That would end Morton’s day as he was replaced by Collin McHugh. Dansby Swanson grounded out for the second out, but Jeimer Candelario followed with another single that scored Bellinger to make it 5-3. McHugh walked Christopher Morel, but got Madrigal to line out to left to avoid any more damage.

Morton started well, but it unraveled quickly. He allowed four hits, four walks and five runs in just 4 1/3 innings. He threw 99 pitches and had four strikeouts.

The Braves got one of those runs back in the sixth as Justin Steele issued back-to back walks to Marcell Ozuna and Orlando Arcia. Kevin Pillar lined out sharply to left for the first out, but Michael Harris singled to lead the bases. Michael Fulmer took over for Steele and promptly hit Acuña in the shoulder to force in a run. With the tying run at third, Fulmer struck out Albies and Riley to end the inning.

Brad Hand retired the side in order in the sixth. The Cubs added another run in the seventh against Joe Jimenez as Swanson doubled home Bellinger to make it 6-4. Kirby Yates stranded a runner in scoring position in the eighth and Atlanta got a leadoff double from Albies to start the ninth. However, Adbert Alzolay retired Riley, Olson and Travis d’Arnaud in order to end the game.

The Braves drop the series and fall to 70-39 for the season. They will continue their road trip Monday when they begin a four-game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates.

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