Braves muster no threat in 5-0 loss to Blue Jays

The Braves were able to snap the franchise’s longest home losing streak in more than a century when they beat the Toronto Blue Jays in Tuesday’s series opener, but the hottest team in the American League wasn’t about to let them end any other misery markers.

The Blue Jays scored four runs in the fourth inning and the Braves didn’t advance a runner to second base all night in a 5-0 loss in a series finale at Turner Field, where the Braves have lost five consecutive series and 14 of 15 games.

That’s 26 losses in 30 games for the Braves, who have a 15-48 record since their 42-42 start. At 57-90, the Braves would need to go 6-9 or better in their remaining games to avoid their first 100-loss season since finishing 54-106 in 1988.

Braves rookie Matt Wisler (5-8) gave up nine hits, four runs and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings, with all the runs and five of the hits coming in the game-turning fourth inning, including a pair of home runs.

“There were some positives I can take tonight,” said Wisler, who threw 69 strikes in 105 pitches. “My slider was the best it’s been in a long time. Obviously you’ve got to look at the negatives, though. I mean, that fourth inning really cost us the game.”

The moribund Braves offense, which has scored two runs or fewer in 15 of its past 30 games, couldn’t muster anything against Toronto right-hander Marco Estrada (13-8), who allowed just three hits and two walks in eight innings by mixing an array of pitches including changeups, curveballs and modest 89-91 mph fastballs.

“I guess he mixed up his pitches good, I don’t know,” said shortstop Andrelton Simmons, whose two-out single in the eighth was the Braves’ final hit. “We just haven’t been swinging the bat like we should. I guess you’ve got to give him some credit, but we’ve just got to do better ….

“It’s frustrating when you haven’t been playing good and still can’t get results (against a less-than-overpowering pitcher). I’m not saying he’s a bad pitcher, I’m just saying, like, I didn’t see anything that we shouldn’t be able to score some runs.”

After Nick Swisher’s one-out walk in the second inning, Estrada struck out Cameron Maybin and Jace Peterson popped out. After Wisler’s one-out single in the third, Nick Markakis grounded into a double play. After Freddie Freeman’s one-out walk in the fourth, A.J. Pierzynski grounded into a double play.

And so it went for a Braves team that has scored just 85 runs in its 4-26 slog, and scored one or no runs seven times during its 1-14 home slide.

Wisler, after going 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA and four homers allowed in his first seven major league starts, is 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA in his past 10 games (nine starts). He’s served up 10 homers in 44 1/3 innings in that 10-game span, though he had allowed none in his past four games before facing the slugging Blue Jays.

All of the runs in the four-run fourth inning scored on homers by Edwin Encarnacion and Cliff Pennington, who launched Wisler fastballs when the pitcher was ahead in the count, 0-1 against Encarnacion and 0-2 to Pennington.

“He gave us six innings,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That was a big goal and we pushed him a little bit, we wanted him to go back out there. We gave him that challenge. In the fourth inning I said, you need to stay out there. If you’re OK, you’re healthy, let’s keep pushing.”

The switch-hitting Pennington’s three-run homer was the 10th in the 164th at-bat by a left-handed hitter against Wisler, who allowed a .350 average and .618 slugging percentage by lefties before Thursday.

“I’ve got to clean that up, with the lefties and stuff,” Wisler said. “That’s still my Achilles heel. I didn’t let too many of the righties get to me, but the lefties got to me.”

Meanwhile, Wisler’s own third-inning single off Estrada’s foot was the Braves’ only hit through four innings against the Blue Jays right-hander, who is 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his past 10 starts. Maybin added a ground-ball single with one out in the fifth, and Estrada retired the next two batters on a pop fly and groundout.

There had been 10 homers among the 25 hits that Estrada allowed in his past six starts before Thursday, but he kept the ball in the park against a Braves team that’s last in the majors in homers and homerless in eight of its past 10 home games.

The Braves have 88 home runs this season, while the Blue Jays lead the majors with 207, including Josh Donaldson’s ninth-inning homer off Sugar Ray Marimon, the 39th of the season for the American League MVP candidate.

“The four-run inning, most of the hits came (when Wisler) was ahead in the count and the balls were coming back over the plate, not hitting his spots,” Gonzalez said. “You do that to a good hitting team like this, you’re going to get hurt. But other than that, he gave us six innings. I know in the grand scheme of things that’s not that big a deal, but it is when you’re developing young pitching. It is for them to go back out there an extra two innings and compete.”