LOS ANGELES – The Braves, once down six runs, stormed back to make it a two-run game Monday against the Dodgers. They couldn’t complete the comeback, though and dropped a 7-4 decision in their first game against former teammate Freddie Freeman.

Freeman homered in his first at-bat of the game - his first as a Dodger after 271 in 12 seasons with the Braves.

Here are five observations on Atlanta (5-7) after the loss.

1. This one looked ugly early. As the Dodgers piled on during a five-run inning, it appeared the game was slipping away from the Braves.

Then they punched back.

Guillermo Heredia homered off Clayton Kershaw in the fifth to put the Braves on the board. Atlanta scored three in the sixth: One on Ozzie Albies’ 421-foot solo homer, another on Adam Duvall’s groundout and the third on Travis d’Arnaud’s bloop single.

In a loss, the Braves showed fight against a talented team.

“It was great,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s what these guys are all about. It would’ve been nice for (Huascar) Ynoa to go five and then we could give it to the guys we want to if you could keep it manageable.”

2. The Dodgers led by three runs with two outs in the fourth inning. They had two men on base.

With Ynoa in trouble, Snitker decided to go to with Sean Newcomb, a long reliever who can eat innings. The decision came into focus when the Braves began mounting their comeback.

One reporter asked Snitker why he went with Newcomb in that spot.

“As opposed to who?” the manager responded.

The Braves had a fresh bullpen. It seemed there were other options if Snitker wanted to use them.

“In the fourth inning?” Snitker said. “If I start doing that with (A.J.) Minter and Will Smith and (Tyler) Matzek, they’ll be dead by the 1st of May. If I use those guys in that position, then we won’t have them by the All-Star break.”

Would they have perhaps won the game if Snitker had gone to a more trusted reliever who could have escaped the jam and kept the deficit at three runs?

Perhaps. But this would have led to Snitker burning through some of his bullpen on the first night of a three-game series. You could argue it either way, but there are tons of factors involved and a lot of “ifs.”

Snitker has to manage his bullpen for the long haul.

“This is one game in April,” he said. “They can’t pitch every day. We’ve got to be careful. We might have the lead the next two days and use them and if we do and use them in that situation tonight and it doesn’t work out in your advantage, then you don’t have them for a win.”

3. In three consecutive innings, down two runs, the Braves couldn’t convert two-out opportunities.

The sixth inning: With men on second and third, Heredia struck out.

The seventh: Matt Olson collected his third hit of game before Austin Riley struck out.

The eighth: With a man on first, Eddie Rosario, who doubled in his previous at-bat, flew out.

The missed opportunities hurt in the eighth, when Cody Bellinger homered off Jackson Stephens to give the Dodgers a three-run lead.

4. This was out of a movie.

“I feel like we’re in Hollywood, (and) you couldn’t script it any better for him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

In his first at-bat against his former team, Freeman homered off Huascar Ynoa to open the scoring. The blast traveled 386 feet.

“There’s no storylines for anything like this,” Freeman told reporters after the game. “There’s no poetic justice or anything like that. I love the Atlanta Braves, I always will love the Atlanta Braves. I’m just glad I could help the Dodgers win a game tonight.”

Before the game, Freeman talked about greeting general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager Brian Snitker, as well as his old teammates. He said this series wouldn’t provide closure because he isn’t seeking it – he had a great run in Atlanta and will always remember it fondly.

But he also said he wanted to play well against his former team.

Hours later, he sent a ball over the wall.

5. The Braves hoped Ynoa would pitch much better than he did in his season debut. It didn’t happen.

The telling stat: The Dodgers notched an average exit velocity of 96.6 mph on 11 balls put in play against Ynoa.

In other words, the Dodgers were not fooled.

Ynoa allowed five earned runs – same as in his first start of the year – over 3 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out four. He threw 75 pitches.

Stat to know

1- Of seven opportunities, the Braves only collected one hit with men in scoring position. They roared back against the Dodgers, but couldn’t get the big hit to swing the game.


Up next

Braves lefty Max Fried, the hometown kid, faces Dodgers righty Walker Buehler in Tuesday’s game, which begins at 10:10 ET.