CHICAGO – In the series opener at Wrigley Field, the Braves played a clean game, pairing dominant starting pitching with an explosive offense.

In the final two, they turned in subpar performances.

They lost Sunday’s rubber game against the Cubs, 6-4.

Five observations:

1. On Saturday and Sunday, the Braves received poor performances from their starting pitchers. They committed a costly error. They made several baserunning mistakes. They failed to come through in clutch situations.

These losses had it all.

“I don’t think there was any excuses other than just we didn’t play good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We ran up against a hot team, and you can’t give them extra (chances). You better play really good, like we did the first day in here, because they’re swinging the bats really good, the bullpen’s been really good. They’re a good club.”

The Cubs are indeed surging. They played well. But the Braves did not play up to their standard.

Despite their miscues, they could’ve won this series. They had chances in each loss.

Is that any consolation?

“I don’t think we look for consolations,” Snitker said. “I think we expect to win and we’re not real happy when we don’t. I don’t think there’s any consolations in losing. We’ll wake up tomorrow and start another streak.”

2. Twice, the Braves gave Charlie Morton a lead.

Twice, he handed it back.

“I just threw the ball really poorly today,” he said.

Morton allowed five runs over 4-1/3 innings. He walked four batters and hit another.

Morton threw 37 of his 99 pitches in a two-run third inning. With one out, he issued a walk and gave up a single before a groundout scored one run. Later, with the bases loaded, Morton threw Dansby Swanson seven curveballs and Swanson walked.

“In the third inning, I just struggled to feel my pitches,” Morton said. “I wasn’t executing, really, much of anything. I threw a ton of pitches in the third. It was the same story. It was an inning where I just throw way too many pitches and lose feel for the ball.”

In a three-run fifth inning, the Cubs hit a run-scoring single and a run-scoring double, one after the other, to chase Morton.

Morton has allowed 16 runs over 19-2/3 innings over his last four starts.

“Timely hits and lots of walks, Morton said of Sunday. “I just feel really bad about that. I just feel like it’s just a sloppy outing. I came out of the break, felt like I was in a pretty good spot. I had that start against the White Sox and threw the ball really well. Since after that first start after the break, it’s hit or miss.”

3. Forget the wind.

It didn’t matter when Matt Olson pulverized a ball that ripped through the wind for a 453-foot, two-run home run off Justin Steele.

“Steele’s obviously got really good stuff and is a good starter,” Olson said. “You gotta be tough on him and make him come to you a little bit. I was able to grind out some pitches and get something good.”

Olson tied a career high with his 39th homer, which ranks second in the sport. His 97 RBIs lead all of MLB.

In the fifth, Olson hit an RBI single.

In the ninth, with a runner on and one out, he popped out as the Braves’ rally fizzled.

“His at-bats have been unbelievable,” Snitker said. “Honestly, I expected him to tie the game in the ninth when he came up as the tying run. I felt really good right there. He just missed one. He’s putting together a monster season.”

4. In one inning, Orlando Arcia appeared to think a shallow fly ball would drop, but it didn’t and the Cubs doubled him off first base to end the frame. In another, Ronald Acuña Jr. was thrown out at home on a single to right field. He didn’t appear to get a great jump at second base, but third base coach Ron Washington sent him home as the Braves tried to test the outfielder’s arm.

On Saturday, the Braves made a couple of baserunning mistakes.

“We just have to be more aware, I think, of what’s going on,” Snitker said. “You’re always looking ahead or thinking ahead when you’re on the bases – situation, score, all that. We’re just capable of being better.”

5. Down two runs with one out, the Braves loaded the bases in the sixth inning for the top of their order. They scored one run when Acuña wore a pitch, but they couldn’t tie the game, as Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley struck out to leave them loaded.

The Braves lost the final two games by two runs apiece.

In those games, they were a combined 6-for-23 with runners in scoring position. They left 20 men on base.

In the seventh inning, Swanson’s RBI double extended the Cubs’ lead to two runs.

Stat to know

9 - Olson has recorded an RBI in nine straight games, which is the longest run in his career.


“That’s a good team over there. They played well this series. We just came up short in a couple games. Go to Pittsburgh, hopefully get back on track and win the series, and go from there.”-Olson

Up next

Spencer Strider will start Monday’s series opener in Pittsburgh, which begins at 7:05 p.m.