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Austin Riley homers, bullpen falters late in Braves 5-2 spring training loss to Rays

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The important thing is that they tried their best.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Riley smashed a two run shot to give the Braves the lead late, but a full on meltdown by the bullpen in the 8th inning proved costly as the Braves fell by the score of 5-2 to the Rays.

Felix Hernandez got the start for the Braves. It was an uneven effort for the veteran righty, but overall the results were pretty good. King Felix went four innings and allowed one earned run on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Darren O’Day would relieve him in the 5th inning with the Braves down 1-0.

The offense did do much through the first few innings and what chances they did have were quickly squandered. The Braves got their first two runners of the bottom of the second on base, but Dansby proceeded to ground into a double play and Ender Inciarte flew out to end the threat. Braves batters would strike out six times through the first four innings with baserunners being few and far between.

The sixth inning saw the Braves start bringing in defensive replacements with Braden Shewmake and Rafael Ortega taking the field and Chris Martin taking the mound. Martin would strike out the side in the sixth in his first appearance of the spring and the Braves remained within a run of the Rays.

This would prove to be fortuitous as the Braves would take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Ozzie Albies continued his hot spring with a single and was immediately pulled for a pinch runner, Austin Riley connected for a monster two-run homer off of the scoreboard in left field to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately, the bullpen went into full implosion mode shortly after that. The top of the 8th saw the Rays plate four runs to stake themselves to a three run lead that proved to be the final margin in the game. Such is life in spring training.