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Braves squander early lead in 6-5 loss to Blue Jays in extra innings

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Atlanta led 4-0 and 5-2 but was unable to hold it.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Toronto Blue Jays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves jumped out to an early lead but the bullpen faltered again in a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in 10 innings.

After Friday’s blowout loss, the Braves were looking to get off to a fast start and did so against former teammate Tommy Milone in the second inning. After two quick outs, Dansby Swanson started the rally with a single to left. Pablo Sandoval followed with another single and then Austin Riley loaded the bases with a swinging bunt. That would bring Cristian Pache to the plate who was just recalled earlier Saturday to replace the injured Guillermo Heredia.

Pache worked the count to 2-2 before turning on an inside changeup and driving it out to left center for a grand slam to give Atlanta an early 4-0 lead.

Charlie Morton worked a pair of scoreless innings to open the game but ran into some trouble in the third. Morton walked Alejandro Kirk to begin the inning and then gave up a two-run home run to George Springer to cut the lead to 4-2.

The Braves weren’t finished though as Ronald Acuña Jr. struck in the fifth with a long home run off of Trent Thorton to push the lead to 5-2. The homer was Acuña’s ninth of the season which ties him for the major league lead.

Toronto would answer back in the sixth against Morton who would begin the inning by hitting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and then walking Teoscar Hernandez. Morton then struck out Cavan Biggio for the first out but allowed a single to Randal Grichuk that scored Guerrero to make it 5-3.

That would be the end of the night for Morton as Brian Snitker summoned Edgar Santana from the bullpen. Santana allowed a double to Lourdes Gurriel that scored Hernandez to make it 5-4. Grichuk also tried to score on the play but was gunned down at the plate on a relay throw from Swanson. Travis d’Arnaud injured his wrist on the play and was replaced by Alex Jackson. Santana got Joe Panik to ground out to end the inning.

Morton had another uneven day allowing five hits and four runs over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two. He looked good at times but the two walks and the hit batter came back to haunt him.

Luke Jackson took over in the seventh and had a very on brand performance. Jackson got off to a good start by striking out pinch hitter Marcus Semien for the first out. That would bring Springer to the plate who homered on a 3-0 pitch to tie the game at 5-5. Jackson would then walk Bo Bichette, but got Guerrero to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

A.J. Minter and Will Smith held the Blue Jays in check in the eighth and ninth to send the game to extras.

The Braves began the 10th with Alex Jackson at second base and he moved over to third on a fly out by Swanson to begin the inning. With the Blue Jays’ infield in, Ehire Adrianza grounded to Semien for the second out with Jackson unable to advance. Jordan Romano then struck out Austin Riley stranding Jackson at third.

Nate Jones took over for Atlanta in the bottom half of the inning with pinch runner Santiago Espinal starting out at second base. Bichette lined out to Swanson for the first out and the Braves then gave the free pass to Guerrero to set up the double play. That would bring up Hernandez who grounded to Swanson, but the relay throw was too late to put runners at the corners with two outs. Jones then walked Biggio to load the bases for Grichuk who singled to center to give the Blue Jays the 6-5 win.

Atlanta falls to 0-4 in extra innings and are now 12-15 on the season. Acuña, Swanson and Pablo Sandoval all finished with two hits each for the Braves. Springer and Grichuk had two hits for Toronto.

The Braves will try to avoid a sweep on Sunday with Ian Anderson as the scheduled starter.