Astros too much for Braves again in 10-4 victory

Braves starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) works against the Houston Astros Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Braves starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) works against the Houston Astros Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Braves were encouraged by a respectable run in June that included series victories over division leaders Washington and Milwaukee. They swept the Athletics last weekend to get within a game of an even record. The unexpectedly early return of their best hitter, Freddie Freeman, buoyed the Braves this week.

And then the Astros came to town. By the time they’d left they’d shown the gap between the Braves and a contending team with too many offensive threats to tame.

The Astros beat the Braves 10-4 on Wednesday after they’d routed them 16-4 the night before. The Astros (58-27) completed the season sweep of the interleague series against the Braves (40-43).

The Braves came rallied to tie the game with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, including Ender Inciarte’s two-run homer. The Astros, who lead the majors in runs scored, responded with six runs over the final four innings.

“They just keep coming at you,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “They don’t let you get away anything —the two-out RBIs, the two-strike RBIs. They are a really good ballclub.”

Astros pinch hitter Norichika Aoki led off the seventh with a double that chased left-hander Jaime Garcia in favor of Jason Motte. George Springer followed with an RBI single and Jose Altuve laced a run-scoring double for a 6-4 lead with no outs. Left-hander Sam Freeman retired the next two batters before Marwin Gonzalez scored Altuve with a single.

The Astros added three runs in the eighth inning against Matt Wisler on Josh Reddick’s RBI double and Marwin Gonzalez’s two-run double. The Astros knocked seven total doubles for the third straight game to tie an MLB record since at least 1913. The 1999 Indians also achieved the feat.

“That’s a tough team to pitch, especially when everybody is locked in,” Inciarte said. “It’s not just one or two guys that is swinging the bat well. Everybody is locked in. It’s tough when you face a team like that. They are going through a better time than us because we have a solid offense and everybody is swinging the bat well right now but apparently they did a better job.”

The Braves managed just one base runner through four innings against right-hander Joe Musgrove. After Freddie Freeman singled in the first inning, Musgrove retired 12 batters in a row until the Braves broke through with two outs in the fifth inning.

After Tyler Flowers singled and Johan Camargo doubled, manager Brian Snitker sent Garcia to the plate with no relievers up in the bullpen. Garcia fouled off two of Musgrove’s 1-2 pitches before hitting a sharp grounder down the third-base line. Alex Bregman got his glove on the ball it rolled away from him for a two-run single.

The next batter, Inciarte, hit Musgrove’s second pitch for an arching fly ball to right field. The ball bounced on top of the 16-foot high brick wall and into the stands for a game-tying home run.

The Astros didn’t do much against Garcia through four innings. Their first run came via a flared RBI single by ex-Braves catcher Evan Gattis with one out in the first inning. Garcia retired 10 batters in a row after that, and Yuli Gurriel was caught stealing after his two-out single in the fourth.

The Astros scored three runs in the fifth inning. Jake Marsinick knocked a one-out double, Springer’s two-out single scored Marisnick, Jose Altuve singled and Josh Reddick scored both of them with a double against the right-field wall.

“Tough, tough game man,” Garcia said. “It’s a lineup that’s pretty hot right now. You can’t make one mistake. When my team was down I didn’t get the job done again.”