PHOENIX – The Braves’ ninth-inning rally fell short and they lost to the Diamondbacks, 3-2, on Friday at Chase Field.
Atlanta has lost three of its last four games.
1. Eddie Rosario did his best to save the Braves.
Rosario, who arrived with five homers over 163 at-bats this season, went deep twice to help Atlanta trim the deficit – both times against Arizona starter Merrill Kelly. When the second homer left the yard, Rosario had accounted for two of the Braves’ five hits at the time.
“Thankfully, I felt very comfortable at the plate, I was able to make the adjustments I needed to make,” Rosario said through interpreter Franco García. " For me personally, it was a really good game and I feel like I needed it.”
In the second inning, Rosario saw a cutter down and in, and deposited it into the swimming pool in right-center field for a two-out solo shot. It brought the Braves within a run.
In the seventh inning, Rosario went to left-center field on a curveball low and away. Once again, he cut Arizona’s lead to a run.
And in the ninth, Rosario singled to move Sam Hilliard to third as the Braves pushed for the tying run.
2. As they often do, the Braves pushed.
They had runners on the corners with one out in the ninth. They seemed destined to tie it.
But Ozzie Albies’ flyout to left was too shallow to score the runner from third. Then, Orlando Arcia grounded out to the pitcher to end the game.
And the first out of the ninth? Travis d’Arnaud hit it 394 feet and, according to Statcast, it would’ve been a home run in 21 ballparks. Instead, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made a nice catch at the wall.
“It shocked me that it stayed in the ballpark,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Miguel Castro held strong and earned the save for Arizona.
That’s the way it goes when things aren’t going a team’s way.
The Braves have struggled offensively during this road trip. They’ve scored two or fewer runs in three of four games thus far.
“You go through these things,” Snitker said. “All the time, you’re gonna go through things where it’s not going your way and you can’t find a big hit, and all that kind of stuff. It’s just part of it. At some point in time – this offense is too good and we’re gonna get it going again.”
3. Arcia, the shortstop shaded toward second base, ran to his right to field a grounder. He got to the ball, but fumbled the transfer to his hand and his throw arrived to first base late. This was a difficult play, as he made an off-balance throw, but Arcia’s arm strength allows him to make these throws all the time.
Instead, the leadoff man reached in the bottom of the first inning.
Two batters later, Matt Olson, who was holding a runner on at first, bolted to his right to try and field a ground ball and potentially start a double play by throwing it to Arcia, who was covering second base. But Olson failed to field the grounder and the runner instead reached base to put two men on with one out.
“No, I think it would have been a really good play if I made it,” Olson said when asked if he expects to make this play. “I think, if anything, I should have let it go and not try to make the play on it and let Ozzie make the play. But nah, I thought that one was pretty far out there.”
Nonetheless, two infield hits set the table for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who doubled to left to score both runners.
Charlie Morton could’ve pitched a scoreless first. Instead, the Braves trailed by two runs.
“It can be frustrating,” he said of the two infield hits. “Hopefully I’ll get the ball another 20 times and just keep turning the pitches and just roll with the punches, because every now and then, there’s gonna be a missile hit at somebody, there’s gonna be a baserunning mistake, and it’s gonna go my way.”
4. Morton was terrific. He gave the Braves a chance to come back.
Morton allowed only three runs over seven innings. He gave up six hits. He struck out nine batters and walked two.
In the third inning, Morton issued a two-out walk, then a double that scored the runner. The D-backs stretched their lead back to two runs.
Still, the righty held the game right there for the lineup, which never took advantage.
Entering Friday, the Braves’ rotation had combined to post a 3.41 ERA, best in the National League.
“It’s a good sign,” Snitker said. “That’s gonna give you a chance, (when) your starters are doing their job. The one thing we can control is that starting pitching. The guys have been doing a great job and we’ve been staying in games and when that offense gets clicking on what they’re capable of, then we’ll take advantage of all that starting pitching.”
The offense went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Two of those at-bats came in the ninth.
The Braves couldn’t create many chances to score.
“We’re having a hard time keeping the line moving and getting the big hit,” Snitker said. “It’s been pretty much the whole road trip. And hopefully it’s just one of those things where at some point time, we’re going to come out of it, and we’ll get back on again. But it’s tough when you get a good start like you did out of Charlie.”
5. On Austin Riley’s double to the left-field corner, Olson raced around second and third.
The ball bounced in the corner, but Gurriel fielded it and made a terrific throw as he spun around and hit the cut-off man, who then threw it to the third baseman.
Olson, who was headed home, had stopped to try to go back to third base, but the D-backs had him caught in the middle.
Third base coach Ron Washington had waved Olson around, then stopped him. Washington probably put up the stop sign too late.
“When I was going second to third there, I had it out in front of me, I saw the kind of weird bounce,” Olson said. “Once I saw the bounce and Gurriel turn around is when I turned and I looked at Wash, and he was waving me. And I put my head down to make the turn, find the bag. And then when I looked up, he was trying to stop me. I tried to throw the brakes on.”
The unfortunate play proved costly in a one-run loss.
“Basically threw it completely across his body from the video that I saw, and it looked like it was pretty on target to (D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed),” Olson said of Gurriel’s throw. “I mean, yeah, it was a nice play. Just unfortunate circumstances there.”
Stat to know
39 - At age 39, Charlie Morton is the sixth-oldest active pitcher in the majors.
“We just got to keep fighting and, eventually, it’ll come around and we’ll start scoring like we’re capable of.”-Snitker on the offense
Spencer Strider will face D-backs righty Ryne Nelson in Saturday’s game, which begins at 10:10 p.m. ET.