CHICAGO – When the winning run crossed home plate, the Cubs stormed the field and celebrated. The Braves, on the other hand, walked into their dugout and up the steps to the tiny visiting clubhouse.

This loss, like others, was indicative of this current stretch for the Braves: They are not playing well, and they have been dealt some tough luck. It is a bad combination.

On Tuesday at Wrigley Field, the Braves lost a winnable game, 4-3 in 10 innings. Atlanta is 27-18.

Five observations:

1. Travis d’Arnaud’s passed ball allowed a run to score. Zack Short’s dropped pop-up put a runner on base – and that guy later scored. Marcell Ozuna tried to advance from second base to third base on a grounder right in front of him, and was caught in a rundown.

The Braves made mistakes. But they could’ve overcome these.

In a one-run loss, they were 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position. They left 10 men on base.

“It’s just one of them things where eventually, we’re gonna get a big hit,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Guys, when (they) get into situations like this, they get up there and human nature is to try too hard, probably, instead of relaxing and just letting it flow. They all want to be the guy to do it.”

The Braves scored twice in the first inning, then again in the fourth inning. On a warm night with the wind blowing out, they seemed poised for an offensive explosion. And they did have action on the bases.

They just couldn’t make it count.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Cubs’ Nico Hoerner hit a chopper to the right side that scored the winning run as it didn’t allow the Braves to throw home.

2. Two situations stand out – one in the seventh inning, the other in the 10th inning.

In the top of the seventh, the Braves put the first two men on base. The Cubs made a pitching change, opting for Mark Leiter Jr., a righty who is especially tough on lefties.

Matt Olson (left-handed hitter): Strikeout.

D’Arnaud: Strikeout.

Michael Harris II (left-handed hitter): Strikeout.

“He’s rough on lefties, that’s for sure,” Snitker said. “He’s like having a left-handed killer out there.”

In the top of the 10th, with the runner at second base to start the inning, the Braves made three consecutive outs. Ozuna made the baserunning error, but it didn’t matter because the Braves couldn’t collect a hit.

“We just didn’t do a real good job with guys in scoring position,” Snitker said. “We needed to hit a couple of hits, and it’s been tough to come by lately.”

Added Short: “I think they just executed. I would take our lineup over anybody’s bullpen 100 days out of 100. Back at it tomorrow.”

3. The Braves had a one-run lead when Daysbel Hernández – officially recalled on Tuesday morning – entered the game. The first batter popped up a ball behind third base.

Short settled under it, then dropped it. It went right off his glove. The runner reached second base, then eventually scored the tying run.

“I just missed it,” Short said. “It can’t happen. It’s not fair to the other guys on this team busting their a– in that situation. It just simply can’t happen.”

Again: This mistake was costly, but not the reason the Braves lost. They could’ve won this game with one or two more big hits.

4. Darius Vines began warming up in the bullpen as Charlie Morton labored through the second inning. The Braves need a starting pitcher for their games on Thursday and Friday, and Vines could conceivably be a candidate for one of the games if he goes unused before then.

It looked as if Morton might log a second straight short start – which would’ve been debilitating considering the Braves’ pitching staff is stretched thin during this stretch of 17 games in 17 days (not including Saturday’s postponement). Thus, Vines began getting ready in the bullpen.

The Braves never needed him.

Morton threw 56 pitches through two innings, then 38 over the next three. Somehow, he made it through five while allowing two runs – and only one of them earned.

“Oh, that’s huge,” d’Arnaud said. “Especially having 17 in a row (without an off day), for him to be able to keep battling, not having his best stuff, and keep us right there in the game – with not having his best stuff, like I said, is really rare. ... He’s not gonna give in. He just keeps fighting and keeps fighting.”

Morton saved the bullpen, and perhaps his team. Short starts can have a really negative impact throughout a certain string of games.

And what if Morton hadn’t made it through five frames?

“That would’ve been, ‘What do we do on Thursday?’” d’Arnaud said. “That would’ve been a huge headache.”

5. We’ll use this last one as a palate cleanser for you, because there was some good on this night:

  • Orlando Arcia and Harris – who have both gone through slumps at the plate this season – each homered.
  • Despite struggles at the plate, Harris continues to play tremendous defense – a testament to his character. He made two terrific catches, and one of them prevented the Cubs from scoring.
  • Ronald Acuña Jr. also made a wonderful catch over his shoulder as he sprinted back toward the wall in right-center field.
  • The bullpen didn’t allow an earned run over 4 1/3 innings. The Braves used A.J. Minter, but stayed away from Raisel Iglesias, Pierce Johnson and Joe Jiménez, which is important.

Stat to know

.282, .782 - Even after going 0-for-14 with men in scoring position, the Braves are batting .282 in those spots – the fifth-best mark in baseball. Their .782 OPS in those situations ranks seventh.


“They executed. They won today. There were a couple free extra bases that they got – one from me included – and they took advantage of it, and they were able to come out on top because of it.” - d’Arnaud

Up next

On Wednesday, we have a matchup between the top pitchers for both teams: the Braves’ Max Fried will face Cubs left-hander Justin Steele. First pitch is at 7:40 p.m.