Another one-run loss drops Braves into third place in NL East

Atlanta Braves' Charlie Morton delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, June 11, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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Atlanta Braves' Charlie Morton delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, June 11, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Five takeaways from the Braves’ 4-3 loss to the Marlins in Miami on Friday night:

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1. A leadoff pinch-hit single by Pablo Sandoval in the ninth inning encouraged the Braves, with the top of the order coming up and a one-run deficit.

“With who we had up, I felt really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Those next two guys can put us ahead right there real easy – the next three honestly, (the next) four.”

Following a Ronald Acuna strikeout and a Freddie Freeman lineout, Marlins closer Yimi Garcia walked Ozzie Albies, bringing Austin Riley to the plate. Riley struck out swinging – his fourth strikeout of the night – to end the game. In an interruption of his superb season to date, Riley is 0-for-12 with six strikeouts in his past three games.

“The last three games, he has struggled a little bit,” Snitker said. “The only way to get a struggling player out of the funk or whatever is to keep running them out there and letting them keep swinging, keep seeing pitches. He’s human, like everybody. I’ve said many times he’s not a finished product yet. He’s going to have bumps in the road. He’s going to work, and he’s going to have confidence in what he’s doing, and we’re going to have confidence in him. And he’ll get it going again.”

2. The game was the Braves’ third consecutive one-run defeat, following back-to-back walk-off losses in Philadelphia. They are 8-11 in one-run games this season.

“The last few years, we’ve won these games,” Snitker said. “We’re not now. It’s what happens in some years. But as long as we are playing these games and giving ourselves a chance, at some point in time we’ll start winning them. … We’re not getting the big hit, making the pitch, whatever it is, but it is the same game every night.”

The latest loss dropped the Braves (29-32) into third place in the National League East, five games behind the first-place Mets and one game behind the second-place Phillies.

3. It wasn’t a good night for Charlie Morton, the Braves’ starting pitcher, who had won his past three starts.

Staked to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Morton allowed a run in the bottom of the inning. Given a 2-1 lead in the third, he allowed three runs in the fourth, two of them on a two-out single by Jazz Chisholm. A one-out walk to .149 hitter Isan Diaz and a hit-batter started the trouble in the inning. Morton was done for the night after the fourth, having allowed four runs on four hits and four walks.

“I was fighting myself all night with my command,” Morton said. “Too many balls, too many missed locations and then giving up the timely hits. I never got into a rhythm.”

4. Acuna and Albies combined to produce the Braves’ two runs against Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara. In the first inning, Acuna walked, stole second base and scored his 300th career run on an Albies single. In the third, Acuna doubled -- his 400th career hit -- and scored on an Albies double.

5. Trailing 4-2 when Morton exited, the Braves allowed the Marlins to add no more runs. In an impressive performance by the bullpen, relievers Sean Newcomb, Shane Greene, Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek pitched one scoreless inning each. The Braves cut Miami’s lead to 4-3 on an RBI double by Acuna in the seventh.

Marlins 4, Braves 3 (box score)

Quotable

“The wheels fell off there in the fourth (inning, when the Marlins scored three runs). … Weird inning. That was the ballgame pretty much.” – Braves manager Brian Snitker

By the numbers

10: Consecutive games in which Ronald Acuna has drawn a walk, the longest such streak of his career.

Next up

The Braves and Marlins play again at 4:10 p.m. Saturday. Max Fried (3-3, 4.63 ERA) will start for the Braves. The Marlins’ starter hadn’t been announced as of Friday.