ST. LOUIS — With gut-wrenching losses on consecutive days, the Braves dropped the series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Atlanta coughed up another lead and lost, 6-3, on Sunday night.

The Braves are 79-50. Here are five observations:

1. On national television, another painful experience played out for the Braves and their fans. Just like Saturday, they were so close to winning the game and series against a fellow contender. They saw it slip away.

“What a game we play,” said A.J. Minter, who kept perspective after a loss that stung.

In the eighth inning, Minter served up a game-tying home run on his first pitch and a go-ahead home run on his last pitch. The Braves saw a one-run lead turn into a three-run deficit, with another loud crowd loving the momentum shift.

An inning before Minter took the mound, Dansby Swanson hit a two-out, two-strike home run off one of baseball’s top relievers to give the Braves a one-run lead. Instead of winning a series, the Braves headed home having lost two of three here.

“You got to love this game,” Minter said. “Come out there and break your heart one night, and come out and be the hero and then you’re on top of the world. Man, that was a tough loss, but it was just a great game.”

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2. Moments after Minter took the mound, a loud blast shot through the air. The Cardinals had tied the game with Tommy Edman’s home run on a 97 mph fastball that went right down the middle.

“We hit a big homer, and they hit a big homer – a couple of them,” manager Brian Snitker said.

The second one occurred not long after the first. After the home run, Minter walked a batter before another laid down a sacrifice bunt. Austin Riley charged it, but couldn’t field it and was charged with an error (It was a really tough play and an unfortunate error to pick up).

Minter then struck out Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, two of MLB’s top hitters, back to back. “I say, ‘Go figure,’” Snitker said of that happening, given what came next.

Tyler O’Neill took Minter’s 97 mph fastball up and away and put it onto the grass beyond the center-field wall for a three-run homer that gave St. Louis a three-run lead.

“The first pitch of the inning to Edman was just right down the middle,” Minter said. “Obviously, I’m going to come in and throw strikes and get ahead and trust my fastball. It happens. And then the one to O’Neill, pretty sure it was a good pitch. It was up and away, and tip your hat again. That’s baseball.”

3. With two strikes and his team’s back against the wall, Swanson hammered a 100 mph fastball from Ryan Helsley for a go-ahead, three-run homer to right-center field. The seventh-inning blast, which traveled an estimated 418 feet, took the air out of the ballpark after the home team had taken the lead in the previous inning.

“It doesn’t even surprise me anymore,” Snitker said. “Just the big hits in big spots and what he does, like I say, he doesn’t even surprise me. I just expect it now.”

That spot was so big that Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol opted for Helsley, his closer who had a 0.89 ERA before this game, to get the final out of the frame.

4. Jake Odorizzi entered the bottom of the sixth inning with a no-hitter. He then recorded two more outs.

His no-hitter ended with Lars Nootbaar’s 355-foot solo home run on a pitch up, away and out of the zone. After hitting it, Nootbaar looked around, as if he did not know where the ball went.

“I wouldn’t have thrown any other pitch,” Odorizzi said. “Just how he hit it. I think we all saw the reaction. …I’d throw that pitch again, and I’d bet that same result probably doesn’t happen. It is what it is at that point. I thought I executed the pitch really well.”

Odorizzi allowed two runs over 5 ⅔ innings.

5. The takeaway from this series?

“That’s postseason baseball right there for you,” Minter said. “That’s about as close as you can get to a World Series game. Those guys just fought back and continued to do their part. Man, it’s just been unbelievable seasons for all these guys in this room. There’s no reason why we should hang our heads from this game. We’re going to look back and this game’s only going to prepare us for the postseason. It’s just going to make us that much better.”

Cardinals 6, Braves 3 (box score)

Stat to know

3-10 – The Braves are 3-10 in rubber matches this season, including 0-5 on the road in those games.

Quotable

“It was two good teams going at it, was my takeaway. That’s how these series are going to go when you get clubs like (this). They’ve been playing good; we’ve been playing good. They were good games.” – Snitker

Up next

The Braves are off Monday before sending Max Fried to the mound for Tuesday’s series opener versus the Rockies, which begins at 7:20 p.m. at Truist Park.