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Braves shut out again, have 3 hits in 2 days vs. Phillies

The Braves loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, then Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson both struck out — on sliders in the dirt — to leave them loaded.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The day after being no-hit by Cole Hamels and three Philadelphia relievers, Atlanta’s offense remained in desultory mode Tuesday in a 4-0 loss to the Phillies that extended the Braves’ scoreless streak to 24 innings. Desultory trending toward comatose, with one run scored in the past 36 innings.

One of the smallest crowds of the year — officially 19,444, but fewer actually in attendance — turned out to see one of the least compelling performances the Braves have produced this season.

After stranding two runners in the first inning of Monday’s 7-0 loss, they stranded three in the opening inning Tuesday, failing to score after Jason Heyward led off with a double and Kyle Kendrick (8-11) walked Freddie Freeman with one out and hit the next batter, Justin Upton.

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Upton stayed in the game for five innings before leaving with a left-triceps contusion. He’s listed as day-to-day.

The health of the Braves’ offense would have to be classified as something more serious. Dire does not seem like an overstatement. They have three hits and no runs in the first two games of this series, and one run in their past four games.

Mike Minor (6-9) turned in his fifth consecutive solid start for the Braves, allowing seven hits, three runs and two walks with five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Good enough to win most nights, but certainly not during this Braves offensive malaise.

After the first inning, they didn’t get another runner to second base until Heyward doubled to start the sixth. That was the final hit for the Braves against Kendrick, who had a 6.59 ERA and .299 opponents’ average in his previous 10 starts.

Although Kendrick had plenty of success against the Braves early in his career, the right-hander was 2-3 with a 6.17 ERA in his past seven starts against them before Tuesday, including 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three this season.

On Tuesday, Carlos Ruiz hit a leadoff homer in the fifth inning, and the Phillies pushed the lead to 2-0 in the sixth on Darin Ruf’s two-out RBI single. The final run charged to Minor scored on Ruiz’s double in the eighth off Anthony Varvaro, who gave up a single, double and sacrifice fly to the first three batters he faced to extend the lead to 4-0.

The Braves’ failure to score after either Heyward leadoff double provided more examples of issues that have plagued their offense throughout the season.

Andrelton Simmons grounded out to the shortstop after Heyward’s double in the first inning, and Simmons grounded out to short again after sixth-inning double. Freddie Freeman walked after the Simmons ground out in the first inning, and Freeman walked again after the Simmons ground out in the sixth.

But instead of loading the bases again in the sixth, the Braves stranded runners at first and second when Ryan Doumit (who replaced Upton) popped out foul to the catcher and Gattis grounded out.

The Braves’ average with runners in scoring position and two outs sunk another point, from .196 to .195, second-lowest in the National League.

They had only two runners reach base between the first and sixth innings, each erased by a double play as Kendrick faced the minimum 12 batters in that four-inning stretch. After Simmons singled in the third, he was out trying to steal second on an inning-ending strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play with Freeman whiffing.

Gattis was hit by a pitch in the fourth, and Johnson grounded into an inning-ending double play on the next pitch. It was the fourth double play he’s grounded into in seven games and 22nd this season, tied for second-most in the National League.

Minor is 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA and .190 opponents’ average in five starts since having his rotation turned skipped in early August. The Braves scored a total of three runs during the 22 innings he was in the games during the three he didn’t win during that stretch.

Before having his turn skipped, Minor was 2-3 with a 7.33 ERA and .357 opponents’ average in his previous 10 starts.

For complete write-thru version of this story with postgame quotes, please go to MyAJC.com or use this link.

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