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Braves’ struggles continue in 2-0 loss to Giants

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Atlanta’s woes with runners in scoring position continue

Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Frustration continues to mount for the Atlanta Braves who dropped their fourth straight game Saturday night to the San Francisco Giants.

It was another frustrating night at the ballpark for the Braves who again had their chances but were unable to come up with a timely hit. Alex Wood was activated from the COVID list prior to the game but was sharp retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced. The only Brave to reach over the first three innings was Travis d’Arnaud who was hit by a pitch in the second.

Zack Littell took over for Wood in the fourth. Jorge Soler greeted him with a drive to center that Steven Duggar pulled back over the wall. The ball hit in his glove’s webbing above the fence but came loose. Soler ended up with a double but it was a heck of a play that would loom larger a short time later. Freddie Freeman followed and dumped a single into left to put runners at the corners with no one out.

The Braves have struggled with runners in scoring position during their three-game losing streak and that continued into Saturday’s game. Up first was Austin Riley and he was called out on a foul tip strike three that was caught by catcher Curt Casali. Riley protested saying the ball hit his hand. The play was reviewed and there was no evidence that the ball hit anything but Riley was called out nevertheless. Littell dug in from there and struck out Adam Duvall on three pitches and then got d’Arnaud swinging to leave both runners stranded.

Charlie Morton cruised through the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth. LaMonte Wade worked a lead off walk and then moved up to second on a single by Brandon Crawford. Mike Yastrzemski advanced the runners with a bunt. Casali followed with a bloop single to right that had a 59.8 MPH exit velocity that scored both runners to make it 2-0. Morton recovered from there and retired Duggar and Littell to end the inning.

Morton worked out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth thanks to a hit batter and two walks but struck out Yastrzemski to escape with no further damage. He would exit at the end of the inning having allowed four hits, three walks and two runs over five innings.

Atlanta’s offense continued to sputter after their scoring chance in the fourth. Dansby Swanson led off the fifth with a walk but again the Braves were unable to do anything with it. Jorge Soler led off the sixth with a walk but Freeman hit a 102.6 mph line drive right to Brandon Belt at first who stepped on the bag for the double play.

Eddie Rosario reached on a two-out single in the seventh but pinch hitter Orlando Arcia grounded into a force play on a nice play at short by Crawford.

Duvall had a one-out single in the ninth off of Dominic Leone but it fitting fashion, d’Arnaud hit into a double play to end the game.

Atlanta’s bullpen did the job behind Morton as Jesse Chavez, A.J. Minter and Drew Smyly combined to allow just one hit over three scoreless innings. However, the Braves managed just five hits and were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

The loss was costly as their lead in the NL East is down to just one game over the Philadelphia Phillies who extended their winning streak to four straight with a 5-3 win over the Mets Saturday night. Atlanta will try to avoid a sweep on Sunday with Max Fried getting the start against Anthony DeSclafani.