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Charlie Morton pitches well, Freddie Freeman homers in loss to Rays

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If you stopped watching after seven innings, I don’t blame you.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Morton looked good in his final tune up and Freddie Freeman hit his first home run of the spring, but an eighth inning bullpen implosion sent the Atlanta Braves to a 16-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Morton looked ready for the regular season tossing three scoreless innings while allowing two hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts. Morton told reporters after the game that he feels good and thinks his command will improve.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third as Freddie Freeman doubled and then came around to score on a single by Marcell Ozuna.

Huascar Ynoa took over for Morton in the fourth and found himself in trouble quickly. Manuel Margot led off the inning with a single and then advanced all the way to third on a double by Joey Wendle. Margot would score to tie the game on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Yandy Diaz. A wild pitch from Ynoa scored Wendle to make it 2-1 and Kevin Kiermaier followed with a solo homer to right to extend the lead to 3-1.

The Braves tied the game on a two-run home run by Freddie Freeman in the sixth. It was his first homer of the spring.

The Braves took back the lead in the seventh on a two-run bomb by Alex Jackson.

Ynoa settled down after the rough fourth inning. He struck out the side in the fifth including top prospect Wander Franco. He added another strikeout in the sixth and tossed another scoreless frame. Ynoa would exit after the sixth after allowing four hits and three runs over three innings with four strikeouts.

Jacob Webb took over in the seventh and served up a long solo shot to catcher Joseph Odom to cut Atlanta’s lead to 5-4. Webb would escape further damage and strike out the side in the process.

Things fell apart completely in the eighth for Atlanta. Chad Sobotka walked Garrett Whitley and Miles Mastrobuoni to begin the inning. After a double steal, Chris Betts brought home both runners with a single to center to put the Rays back in front 6-5. Moises Gomez followed with a double to put runners at second and third. That would be the end of the day for Sobotka who was replaced by Victor Arano.

Odom struck again with a two-run single off of Arano to extend the lead to 8-5. Travis Demeritte then misplayed a Tristan Gray fly ball into a double and Franco brought home another run with a single back through the box. Xavier Edwards extended the lead to 10-5 with a single to center.

Daysbel Hernandez replaced Arano and walked a run in, allowed another run on a wild pitch and then served up a three-run home run to Gomez to make it 16-5. Kyle Muller came on and got Gray to fly out to center to bring the inning to a merciful end.

Sobotka allowed two hits, two walks, four runs and didn't retire a batter. Arano inherited a mess and didn’t do much to clean it up allowing four hits and five runs in just a third of an inning. Hernandez allowed two hits and three runs and retired one batter.

Atlanta will return to North Port for their final game at CoolToday Park for 2021 Monday against the Boston Red Sox. Ian Anderson is scheduled to get the start for Atlanta while Boston will go with righty Tanner Houck.