Braves drop finale vs. Astros, finish 5-2 homestand

Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton delivers against the Astros on Sunday at Truist Park. (Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton delivers against the Astros on Sunday at Truist Park. (Miguel Martinez /

It ended in disappointment, but Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Astros won’t overshadow the good of the Braves’ homestand.

This was viewed as likely the most difficult homestand of the season. The Braves hosted the Mets and Astros, one team the newest challenger to their division crown and the other the final opponent of their 2021 title run.

With seven weeks remaining before the postseason, the Braves look like they have the ingredients to repeat. They went 5-2 against the Mets and Astros, showing the talent and resilience that led them to the sport’s pinnacle last season.

The Braves have trailed the Mets in the division standings since April. New York hadn’t lost a series within the National League East. But the Braves punched the Mets in the mouth, taking three of four games and outscoring New York 28-12. It was a notable response after dropping four of five games in Queens the previous week.

Then came the Astros, whom the Braves last saw when Jorge Soler’s homer was soaring out of Minute Maid Park. The Braves welcomed Houston back to Atlanta with a four-run victory Friday. They won again in an extra-innings thriller Saturday.

Sunday was a dud, though. They squandered an early lead, then the game unraveled late. The Astros used a two-run eighth – both runs charged to Braves lefty reliever Dylan Lee – to ruin the homestand’s finale. Houston added an insurance run off Jackson Stephens that loomed large after the Braves scored twice in the ninth.

Braves starter Charlie Morton has fared mostly well since mid-June, encouraging as the Braves approach their final stretch. In his last 11 starts entering Sunday, Morton had a 2.61 ERA with 87 strikeouts against 19 walks. He maintained that success against one of baseball’s most potent offenses, holding the Astros to two runs over six innings.

Morton’s blemish was the third inning, when the Astros loaded the bases and he surrendered two runs after leaving a pitch over the middle to Yordan Alvarez. Morton retired 10 of the next 13 Astros and left with the game tied at two.

The 38-year-old Morton struck out 11, his second consecutive double-digit strikeout showing and fifth of the season. He became the third starter to post a double-digit strikeout game against the Astros this season, following Kevin Gausman and Shohei Ohtani. Morton has 164 strikeouts, the ninth-highest total in the majors.

Matt Olson produced the Braves’ first two runs with a homer to center in the first. Olson has nine homers and 23 RBIs in 29 games since the All-Star break. Rookie sensation Vaughn Grissom had another two hits, including a double. He reached base in all seven games of the homestand. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud added an RBI triple in the ninth.

Despite dropping Sunday’s finale, the Braves are 42-24 at Truist Park with 15 home games remaining. The team’s best record at Truist Park was 50-31 in 2019.

The Braves begin a six-game road trip Monday in Pittsburgh. Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.15) will start the opener against Pirates righty Roansy Contreras (3-3, 4.02).