Braves unable to work late-game magic in series finale against Padres

The Braves and Padres, who had traded blows all weekend, did so one more time in Sunday’s series finale. The Braves led, the Padres came back, then the teams battled as the game and series hung in the balance.

Given Saturday’s magical comeback, these Braves seemed well-positioned for another exciting finish.

Instead, the Padres scored four runs in the 11th inning and the Braves lost 7-3 at Truist Park. Atlanta (16-19) made far too many mistakes during this series and dropped two of three to San Diego.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a few times,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s hard to do. It’s hard to give teams extra outs. We had opportunities, couldn’t kind of get anything going.

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“Hopefully eventually, this thing turns in our way and kind of starts flowing in our direction.”

Jackson Stephens pitched a scoreless 10th inning but couldn’t add another. Ha-Seong Kim doubled to score the go-ahead run. Three batters later, Kim beat Ozzie Albies’ throw home on a grounder. And after that, Wil Myers drove in two more with a single.

For the Braves, this stung even more considering that, despite their mistakes, they could’ve won this game.

“Like we saw, you can't give teams more than three outs. You'll get hurt."

- Braves manager Brian Snitker

In the bottom of the 10th, with pinch runner Guillermo Heredia at first base, Matt Olson hit a two-out single into center field. Heredia advanced to third. But Austin Riley then hit a ball right at the shortstop for the final out.

The Braves, who didn’t score after the fourth inning, committed three errors. In the fifth inning, Olson’s second error in as many days allowed the Padres to score their first run. Two innings later, Riley’s second error in as many days helped San Diego eventually tie the game when Austin Nola lifted a sacrifice fly against Collin McHugh. In the 11th inning, Dansby Swanson bounced a throw to Olson, which positioned San Diego to add on in the frame.

“Like we saw, you can’t give teams more than three outs,” Snitker said. “You’ll get hurt.”

The Braves also had another unfortunate play: To lead off the bottom of the 10th inning, Orlando Arcia tried to bunt over the runner that started at second base. But Padres pitcher Nabil Crismatt, who hurled a scoreless ninth and 10th, fielded it and fired to third to nab William Contreras.

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“He was trying to make a baseball play,” Snitker said of Arcia. “He missed. He missed fat in the field. It’s like one of those plays where you’d like to be either fair or foul when you’re doing that.”

Kyle Wright pitched much better than his line – three runs (one earned) on three hits over 6 ⅓ innings – indicates. His defense let him down.

The Braves had taken a two-run lead into the seventh, with Wright on the mound. He had struck out nine batters, but allowed a double and a single with one out – the second coming from Myers – as the Padres pulled within a run. Riley’s error ended Wright’s afternoon.

Still, this start serves as a positive for Wright, who bounced back from the rough outing versus Boston. Wright has a 2.79 ERA through seven starts.

“Really happy with where I’m at and going to keep it going,” Wright said.

Padres starter Joe Musgrove only surrendered three runs (two earned) over six innings. Swanson’s late-game error proved costly, but he helped the Braves build an early three-run lead. He scored a run with heads-up baserunning, then became responsible for two others with his fourth homer of the season.

In the second inning, Adam Duvall hit a shallow blooper into right field. Myers didn’t field it cleanly as Swanson, who had taken off from first, raced to third. But then Myers bounced a throw to second baseman Robinson Cano, who couldn’t squeeze it. The ball got away from Cano and Swanson raced home, beating a throw there to score the game’s first run.

On a 3-0 count in the fourth inning, Swanson blasted a two-out, two-run home run off Musgrove to give the Braves a three-run lead. He has been one of the Braves’ top hitters over the last three weeks.

“Anything he gets, he deserves,” Wright said of Swanson. “He works for it all. He’s a winner. He hates losing. Any time we lose a game, it just gets at him, and that’s when I feel like he always steps up and continues to play better.”

After Wright exited, the bullpen turned in a strong performance. A.J. Minter pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Kenley Jansen tossed a scoreless ninth. Stephens escaped the 10th.

The Braves almost snagged a series win over San Diego, but their mistakes doomed them.

“We just need to just tighten a few things up,” Olson said. “Those guys keep throwing and guys keep putting together some at-bats, and get on a winning track here.”

Padres 7, Braves 3 (box score)