CINCINNATI — The Braves’ bullpen melted down – well, at least compared to what we’re used to seeing from the unit – in a 4-3 loss to the Reds on Sunday at Great American Ball Park.

Here are five observations on Atlanta (46-34):

1. The Braves had a one-run lead when Collin McHugh entered for the bottom of the eighth. He allowed three runs.

The teams were tied when A.J. Minter took the mound for the bottom of the ninth. He surrendered the winning run.

This bullpen has been so good. These days will sometimes occur. That’s baseball.

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“You always have to move on, no matter what – good, bad, indifferent,” McHugh said. “Season doesn’t stop because you’re playing well; season doesn’t stop because you’re playing poorly. You try and limit it to what it is, flush it when it’s a bad day and ride it when you’re having a good day. Today’s a flusher.”

Charlie Morton no-hit the Reds through six. He gave the Braves a great chance to win.

The Braves went 4-2 on this trip.

“It was a good road trip,” Morton said. “I think we’re in a good spot. I think ever since Arizona, we’ve been in a good spot, and it’s just a continuation of that. Win or lose, in the clubhouse or on the field, I like a lot where we’re at.”

2. Morton was terrific. His no-hitter didn’t end until Max Schrock grounded a single into center field to begin the bottom of the seventh.

Yet …

“Nothing really stood out, I don’t think, today any different than what I’ve been doing the past few (starts),” Morton said.

That could be good news for the Braves. Morton feels like he’s been throwing the ball well. The results were just better Sunday, when he allowed one hit and struck out 10.

Minter felt like he let down Morton.

“It’s our job as relievers to come in and put zeros up,” Minter said. “So any time we don’t do that, we didn’t do our job. Charlie did (an) absolutely fantastic job. It was trending the right direction for us.”

3. This one might sting. The Braves are in a great spot, but they were oh-so-close in that ninth inning.

Minter had Tommy Pham caught stealing and threw to Matt Olson, but Dansby Swanson – one of baseball’s best defensive shortstops – dropped the ball and couldn’t apply the tag for an out. A foul ball also landed near a couple Braves, but neither caught it.

Both were tough plays, but this talented team can make them.

Then there was Albert Almora’s single, which was a foot away from being a potential double-play ball.

Still, the Braves are looking at the bigger picture.

“We’re in a great place,” Minter said. “We would love to sweep a series against Cincinnati, but we’re playing good baseball. I don’t think one bad game should derail us of anything that we got going forward.”

4. Down to their final three outs, the Braves tied the game versus Hunter Strickland.

Marcell Ozuna led off the top of the ninth with his second homer of the game. With two outs, Michael Harris crushed a game-tying homer.

“We’ve got thump up and down the lineup, guys that can hurt you one through nine,” McHugh said. “I think that’s what’s made this team as good as we’ve been so far, and last year was the same (thing).”

5. With those solo shots, the Braves grabbed new life. This team never seems to die.

But in a loss, one stat loomed large: The Braves went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They left seven men on base.

Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo deserves credit, though. As well as Morton pitched, Castillo almost matched him, holding the Braves to a run over seven innings.

“Charlie was really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I knew it was going to be tough sledding against Castillo, too, because that guy’s a rough ride, man. He throws so good.

“Knew runs were going to be scarce.”

Reds 4, Braves 3 (box score)

Stat to know

5 and 10 – Ozuna now has five home runs and 10 RBIs in innings seven through nine this season.


“Winning feels much better than losing. Any time we can put together a month like we did, it keeps you in the race first of all, but it also gives you confidence, especially moving into the All-Star break. Everybody’s legs are a little heavy, arms are a little heavy.” – McHugh on the Braves over the last month-plus

Up next

The Braves on Monday begin a four-game series with the Cardinals. Kyle Wright will face St. Louis righty Dakota Hudson.