Pirates 1, Braves 0

All that’s left for the Braves is to play spoiler.

That isn’t even going their way.

A day after being eliminated from playoff contention, the Braves dropped a 1-0 decision to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night at Turner Field. While the Braves will watch the postseason from the comfort of their living rooms, the Pirates moved closer to a playoff berth.

The Braves (76-80) have lost four in a row, all at home, nine out of 10 and are 4-15 in the month of September. The latest defeat drops the Braves into a tie with the New York Mets for third place in the National League East. They are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Marlins for fourth place in the division.

It gets worse.

  • The Braves have scored two or fewer runs in 61 out of 156 games this season and fell to 8-53 in those games.
  • They have now been shut out 16 times this year, including six times this month.
  • They have scored just 40 runs all month, the lowest total in the majors.
  • They have one home run in the past 10 games.

“I ended up talking to the guys about what we have to play for going forward,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said before the game. “One of the main goals is we can finish above .500 and have a winning season. … This is our playoffs these next two series.”

The Pirates (85-71) won for the 10th time in the past 12 games.

Braves starter Aaron Harang cruised through the first five innings as he scattered three hits. He struck out six, including the side in the second inning after allowing a leadoff walk and single.

And then Harang made a mistake. Against the Braves’ anemic offense, that’s all the opposition needs these days.

Andrew McCutchen crushed a 2-0 pitch into the left-centerfield seats for his 24th home run. It gave the Pirates a one-run lead.

Harang went seven innings, allowing just the four hits and one run.

Meanwhile Pirates starter Francisco Liriano stymied the Braves through his six innings. He allowed just three hits and four walks while striking out seven.

Jason Heyward remained out of the Braves’ lineup for the fourth consecutive game with a bruised right thumb. The right fielder said the swelling has subsided considerably after he was hit by a pitch. “It doesn’t feel like a balloon anymore,” Heyward said.

Evan Gattis remained out of the lineup as the catcher slowly returns from strep throat and kidney stones. He pinch-hit for Harang in the seventh inning and struck out.

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