ATLANTA -- While the recent five-game winning streak justifiably created excitement, the most encouraging trait the Braves have displayed this season is an ability to quickly bounce back from rough stretches like the one they found themselves in after Saturday night's 11-2 loss to the Giants.Losing two straight to an
ATLANTA -- While the recent five-game winning streak justifiably created excitement, the most encouraging trait the Braves have displayed this season is an ability to quickly bounce back from rough stretches like the one they found themselves in after Saturday night's 11-2 loss to the Giants.
Losing two straight to an experienced and talented Giants club that has won 10 of its last 13 games certainly doesn't provide reason to worry. But coming off the 7-1 stretch, this wasn't the time the Braves wanted to suffer a consecutive loss for just the third time this season and first time at SunTrust Park, which has hosted capacity crowds for the first two games of this series.
"I'm sure this isn't going to be the last time we have a stretch like this," Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "You've just got to find ways to minimize it and move forward. You definitely can't dwell on it."
The dynamic Braves offense, which easily leads the National League in runs, has been limited to six runs by the Giants, who saw Ty Blach allow just two runs -- one earned -- over 7 1/3 innings on Saturday. As Blach was dealing, Brandon McCarthy was enduring one of his worst starts ever, allowing a career-high eight earned runs and 12 hits over just 3 1/3 innings.
"The Giants are a team that I think has a chance to go a long way this year," McCarthy said. "That's a really complete lineup there. That's me saying it, because I just threw them batting practice. But that's a pretty good group one through nine."
As McCarthy had allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his previous six starts this season, he had been a consistent asset within a Braves rotation that entered this series having allowed no more than one run over at least five innings in 14 of the season's first 30 games, including each of the past five.
Regression was inevitable, but it can be cruel when it comes in the form of the of the 20 runs the Giants have totaled during this series. Mike Foltynewicz was frustrated throughout a six-run second inning on Friday and McCarthy simply didn't find the usual success he has with his sinker or cutter.
"It was just one of those nights," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We had an inning last night and a game today. It's going to happen. [McCarthy] has been pitching really well."
While former Braves prospect Gorkys Hernandez notched a career-high four hits and Andrew McCutchen heated up with a three-hit performance, the Braves were led by Nick Markakis, who notched three hits to extend his multi-hit streak to five games.
Before winning five straight, the Braves had lost three of their previous five games, a stretch that began with consecutive losses to a Reds team that had, at that point, totaled just three wins. The Braves entered that series in Cincinnati having won four of the six games that followed blowing a five-run, eighth-inning lead to the Cubs on April 14.
Now, they'll once again attempt to minimize the length of their struggles. "Over the course of a 162-game season, two games or five games, none of those things really amount to too much," McCarthy said. "Tomorrow with [Mike Soroka] going, I think we're in a good place."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A few bloops and a big blast: After limiting damage to two runs during a 29-pitch second inning, McCarthy allowed four straight hits, including Evan Longoria's RBI double (his 1,500th career hit), to begin the third inning. The inning's big blow came from Alen Hanson, who highlighted his career-best four-RBI performance with a two-run homer he hit on a cutter that was spotted on the inside corner. The Braves' veteran hurler wanted the pitch to be slightly higher.
"I guess that's his hot zone," Suzuki said. "[McCarthy] likes to cut it up and in to lefties. That was kind of the scouting report. He put a real good swing on that ball. That guy is swinging the bat. Every ball tonight, it seemed like he knew what was coming."
Staying hot: The Braves cut their deficit to 6-2 via the two-out, third-inning double produced by Markakis, who has hit .444 and constructed an impressive 1.244 OPS over his past 16 games dating back to April 18.
"It's really good to see," Snitker said. "I'll pull for a guy like that. When they're doing well, it makes you feel good about how hard they work and how consistent and professional they are."
HE SAID IT
"It was a bad combination. The Giants usually tear me apart. Good pitches still found holes. Bad pitches found the barrel and were hit hard. It was just kind of a nightmare from the beginning." -- McCarthy, who now has a 7.53 ERA in six career starts against the Giants
"He really hit the ball hard and had nothing to show for it. That happens. He's just a young guy who has to realize how good he is. You're not going to get hits all the time. But he put some good swings on balls." -- Snitker on Ronald Acuna Jr., who is 0-for-8 in this series, despite producing a 100-plus mph exit velocity with six of the eight balls he's put in play
Soroka will pitch in front of the hometown crowd for the first time when the Braves and Giants conclude their three-game series Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. Soroka impressed as he limited the Mets to one run over six innings in his Major League debut on Tuesday. The 20-year-old right-hander ranks as baseball's 30th-best prospect, per MLB Pipeline. He'll be opposed by Andrew Suarez.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.