The Braves opened a seven-game homestand Monday with an 8-4 loss to the Nationals, seeing uncharacteristic results from Charlie Morton while their offensive struggles persisted.

Here are five observations:

1. The Nationals jumped on Morton early, scoring four runs on four hits in the opening frame. Five of the first seven hitters reached base. Two of the biggest hits – ex-Brave’s Eddie Rosario’s double and Nick Senzel’s double – came with two strikes.

“Any time you give up that many hits, that many baserunners and throw that many pitches in the first inning, in any inning, it’s just a battle from then,” Morton said. “Physically, it’s a grind because you’re used to going 10 to 20 pitches an inning, then you throw 30-something pitches in an inning, from then you’re not as sharp and your stuff isn’t as crisp, location isn’t as good, it’s a battle.”

An inning later, CJ Abrams homered off an 0-2 pitch. Morton’s inability to finish hitters doomed him in a rare poor outing. This was the third time in 10 starts he allowed more than three runs in a start.

2. By day’s end, Morton had surrendered eight runs on 12 hits over 5-2/3 innings. His season ERA leapt nearly a full run from 3.35 to 4.29. Morton, a 17-year veteran, hadn’t allowed eight or more runs in a start since June 21, 2015, also against the Nationals (when Morton was with Pittsburgh).

Good company, at least: Morton became the third Atlanta Braves pitcher to allow at least 12 hits and eight runs while recording seven strikeouts in a start, joining Hall of Famers Phil Niekro (twice in 1977) and Greg Maddux (2003).

3. The Braves scored their four runs in the seventh as Nationals starter Mitchell Parker ran out of steam. The frame included a two-run shot from Adam Duvall, his fifth homer, which was welcomed as Duvall resumes everyday duties. With Ronald Acuña done for the season with a torn ACL, the Braves are planning to play Duvall in right field and Jarred Kelenic in left regularly.

“My heart goes out to Ronald, just going through what he went through a couple years ago and having to do it all over again,” Duvall said. “I’ve been there. I’ve had season-ending surgery, so I know the feeling. My heart goes out to him.”

Duvall has homered three times over his past six games.

4. Third baseman Austin Riley (side soreness) and catcher Sean Murphy (oblique) returned to the Braves’ lineup Monday. Riley went 0-for-4 with a strikeout but looked comfortable in the field. Murphy went 1-for-4 (with an RBI on a groundout) and said he felt good after the game.

“I felt like I knew what I was going to feel like and I did,” Murphy said. “Now it’s just a matter of cleaning up a few things in the swing, but I was happy.”

Second baseman Ozzie Albies also hit leadoff in Acuña’s absence, going 1-for-4. Snitker said they’ll take a day-to-day approach with that spot but Albies is getting the first opportunity to replace Acuña atop the order.

Washington Nationals outfielder Eddie Rosario (8) prepares to bat against the Atlanta Braves in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

5. Rosario, the Braves’ 2021 National League Championship Series MVP, received an ovation and tipped his helmet to the crowd before his first at-bat back at Truist Park with the Nationals. He swiftly halted those cheers, though, when he followed with an RBI double off Morton.

Still, Rosario will always be appreciated here because the Braves wouldn’t have won the World Series without him. He went 14-for-25 (.560) with a double, triple, three home runs and nine RBIs against the Dodgers, one of the greatest and most memorable performances in franchise history.

Stat to know

14 of 25 - The Braves have lost 14 of their last 25 games dating back to the series in Seattle that began April 29.


“Over half the balls that were put in play today (against me) were hits. It’s like, you could see why it’s beneficial to try to go for strikeouts and avoid contact if you can.” – Morton

Up next

The Braves will start Max Fried (4-2, 3.38) against Nationals righty Jake Irvin (2-5, 3.79) on Tuesday at 7:20 p.m.