PHOENIX – In many of the Braves’ losses, their offense has fallen flat. When they lose, they often lament the missed opportunities from their potent lineup.

Wednesday was a rarity.

In a 7-5 loss to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, two of the Braves’ best relievers – Pierce Johnson and Joe Jiménez – did not have their best on the same night for the first time all season. It represented a rare blip for an incredible bullpen. This loss snapped Atlanta’s four-game winning streak.

Perhaps more than anything, the night served as a reminder that no one is perfect.

Five observations:

1. About ten minutes after the Braves fell behind by two runs, Marcell Ozuna cranked a ball that soared higher than the tall wall in center field and tied the game in the eighth inning.

And then, in the bottom half of the inning, Jiménez – who has been incredibly reliable this season – allowed the go-ahead runs.

“It’s always tough when this situation comes,” Jiménez told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the loss. “I just think that you need to turn the page and just keep going. It’s still a long season. Obviously, it’s a tough loss because we came back and tied the game. It happens.”

To lead off the bottom of the inning, Corbin Carroll doubled. Ketel Marte then hit an infield single. Ozzie Albies dove to stop it, but didn’t have enough time to throw to first. Jiménez had Joc Pederson, the former Brave, at a 1-2 count, but plunked him to load the bases.

Jiménez walked Christian Walker to let in a run. Two batters later, he gave up a sacrifice fly.

“Last few innings that I’ve pitched, I’ve been, not struggling, but working on stuff,” Jiménez said. “And obviously I wasn’t my best today, so I just tried to fight through it and have a good day.”

Before Wednesday, Jiménez hadn’t allowed an earned run since June 12 in Baltimore – a run of nine scoreless frames. Jiménez, who has a 2.75 ERA, has only been scored upon in five of 36 outings this season.

The Braves trailed by two runs when Arizona’s Paul Sewald came in to try and get the final three outs. He had blown his previous three saves, including one against Atlanta.

This time, he set down the Braves in order.

Before any of that, Johnson jogged in to take over with one out and a man on first base in a tie game. For the most part, Johnson has been dominant since Atlanta acquired him around the trade deadline last season.

The first batter Johnson faced, Eugenio Suárez, lined a double into the left-field corner that allowed the speedy Geraldo Perdomo to score from first. Two batters later, Jose Herrera – the catcher who batted ninth – hit a single into right field that scored a second run.

Only one run was charged to Johnson. Before Wednesday, he’d thrown 7 2/3 scoreless frames since he last allowed an earned run. He’s only permitted earned runs in six of 31 appearances this year.

“Just one of those nights,” Charlie Morton said of the bullpen. “It’s gonna happen. It’s hard to be as good as they’ve been. But that’s just baseball. It’s gonna happen. Those guys are really good down there. They do a great job.”

2. How much of an outlier was Wednesday?

It was the first time all season that Johnson and Jiménez have allowed earned runs on the same day.

“I mean, those guys have been so rock solid,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I say, it’s gonna happen. … Just turn the page and hopefully you get a lead tomorrow and get them back in there doing the same thing.”

Overall, Atlanta’s bullpen ranks second in MLB with a 2.95 ERA. Cleveland’s bullpen leads the majors with a 2.60 ERA. Opponents have hit .228 against Braves relievers – the eighth-best mark in the sport. The Braves’ bullpen’s 1.15 WHIP is tied for third.

All of that is why this loss was so shocking.

“It’s gonna happen,” Jiménez said. “Obviously, we have been so good that when this situation comes to us, it’s tough. We’re just gonna turn the page and come tomorrow and try to win the series.”

3. Two pitches altered the perception of Morton’s outing.

In the top of the second inning, the Braves scored twice to give Morton a two-run lead. And in the bottom half, he served up a two-run shot.

In the top of the third, the Braves scored again. And in the bottom half, Morton gave up a homer.

Twice, the Braves gave Morton the lead – and in consecutive innings, no less. Both times, he quickly surrendered it.

The part that particularly stung: Morton allowed both of the game-tying home runs with two outs.

Overall, Morton pitched well. But those two home run pitches hurt.

How does he view all of this?

“Uh, I don’t know, because – yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Morton said. “It’s still frustrating. I really don’t know. I don’t know how to feel about that one. It’s kind of like the last (start). It’s like you look back and you’re like, man, you want those two back.”

In his last start, versus the Giants, Morton allowed two homers but otherwise pitched well.

4. It would be impossible not to mention how Morton responded from the two long balls. He pitched into the seventh inning.

Morton kept the Braves in the game.

He got one out in the seventh inning before giving up a single. That’s when Snitker walked out to the mound to pull Morton.

Snitker went to Johnson, who allowed the go-ahead run. It was charged to Morton, who finished with four earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.

Morton has a 4.07 ERA. Considering he’s the Braves’ fourth-best starter, this mark isn’t terrible. But it feels like Morton hasn’t pitched up to his capabilities.

5. The D-backs started Slade Cecconi, who entered with a 6.10 ERA this season. The Braves took some nice swings off him.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, D-backs manager Torey Luvollo only allowed Cecconi to go two times through the order. The Braves seemed poised to score more off him.

In the second inning, Travis d’Arnaud smoked a two-run double to right field. In the third, Matt Olson lifted a sacrifice fly.

After four innings and 62 pitches, Lovullo lifted Cecconi with the top of Atlanta’s order due up. In four innings versus Cecconi, the Braves – who tallied those three runs on four hits, with two walks – hit balls at 107.8 mph, 103.3 mph, 102.3 mph and 97.5 mph.

But each time Atlanta scored, the D-backs answered.

It happened in the second inning. Then in the third. Then in the eighth.

Two of the Braves’ relievers had a rare off night.

“It’s happened to them all before and it will again,” Snitker said. “Hopefully we got a lead tomorrow, we’re gonna get all those same guys out there.”

Stat to know

19 - Johnson (10) and Jiménez (9) entered the game having allowed 19 earned runs between them. They gave up three in 1 2/3 innings on Wednesday.


“It’s exactly what we need. We just need to respond as a bullpen and just hold them up and try to get the win every time.” - Jiménez on the Braves’ offense being on a roll

Up next

Max Fried will start Thursday’s series finale – his final outing of the first half. The game begins at 9:40 p.m.