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Another bad day for Bartolo Colon in Braves loss

Braves pitcher Bartolo Colon had another rough day. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Braves pitcher Bartolo Colon had another rough day. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

A bad throw contributed to one run scored against Bartolo Colon. Some bad luck influenced another.

But misfortune had little to do with the three-run homer Adam Frazier smashed against the Braves right-hander. That shot in the second inning turned a leak into a flood that sank Colon and the Braves early during a 9-4 defeat Thursday at SunTrust Park.

“I definitely can’t put it on the defense,” Colon said through an interpreter. “They are not the ones to blame. It’s on me. I was the one who was hit hard today.”

After the Astros roughed up Colon for eight runs on May 9, his 7.22 ERA was worst in the majors among eligible pitchers. Two effective-if-short outings since then left Colon with a 6.38 ERA that still was sixth-worst in MLB entering Thursday.

Colon had a 6.96 ERA after the Pirates scored seven earned runs over five innings. That ERA again ranked last in the majors after the game, and none of the five players with a worse mark were scheduled to pitch Thursday

The Braves to signed Colon to a one-year, $12.5 million contract in November after he was effective for the Mets in 2016. The Braves hoped he has another good year left, but so far they are getting little reward for taking the risk with Colon, who turned 44 on Wednesday.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said he plans to stick with Colon in the starting rotation and believes he can work out his issues.

“I just look at his track record,” Snitker said. “I’ve just got to feel like a guy who’s survived in the league as long as he has will figure out a way to make the adjustments he needs to do to be successful.”

The Pirates (22-26) won the final two games of the series to earn a split. The Braves (20-25) won five of nine games during an eventful homestand.

It started with star first baseman Freddie Freeman suffering a fractured left wrist that will sideline him for at least 10 weeks. The Blue Jays routed the Braves in the next game, but they recovered to win a weekend series against the Nationals, who lead the NL East.

The Braves acquired first baseman Matt Adams in a trade with the Cardinals on Saturday, and he hit a game-ending single to beat the Pirates on Tuesday. That game lasted until nearly 2 a.m. because of a long rain delay.

The Braves blew a lead in the ninth inning to the Pirates on Wednesday before losing in the 10th. They play at San Francisco on Friday to start a nine-game trip.

“Pretty good homestand,” Braves left fielder Matt Kemp said. “You wish we would have ended it a little bit better, but we’ve been playing some pretty good baseball. Hopefully we can take it on the road and keep it going.”

Following Frazier’s home run, Colon made it through the third and fourth innings without allowing a run. But then Jordy Mercer knocked a two-run double in the fifth for a 7-0 lead.

Braves hitters had no response against right-hander Ivan Nova, who held them to four earned runs over 8 1/3 innings. He faced three more than the minimum 18 batters through six innings and was in line for a complete game before fading.

The game was essentially out of reach after Colon gave up at least six earned runs for the fourth time in 10 starts. In his previous two starts he held the Blue Jays to two earned runs over five innings and limited the Nationals to one earned run over 4 1/3.

“The last couple games I think it’s gotten crisper, better,” Snitker said. “So hopefully we can build on it.”

A pair of infield hits in the second inning started Colon’s troubles against the Pirates.

With one out and two Pirates on base, Jordy Mercer hit a weak ground ball that third baseman Rio Ruiz charged and scooped cleanly. But his throw forced first baseman Matt Adams off the bag and Adams dropped the ball while tagging Mercer. The Ruiz throwing error allowed Francisco Cervelli to score.

The next batter, Gift Ngoepe, hit another slow grounder down the line that Ruiz fielded with little time to make a play. The base hit scored Jose Osuna for a 2-0 lead.

Colon recorded a second out on Nova’s sacrifice hit before Frazier’s homer sent the Pirates on their way to victory. Frazier pulled a low-and-inside fastball over the right-field wall for his second homer in two days against the Braves after he had one in his previous 26 this season.

“I tried to throw a pitch in and I left it middle in,” Colon said. “Any time you leave it middle in, they are going to hit it.”