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Walks sink Braves in opener with Reds

MLB.com @mlbbowman

CINCINNATI -- Mike Foltynewicz set the tone for the night with an erratic effort, abbreviated by his inability to command his fastball. Sam Freeman's command issues fueled the Reds' decisive five-run sixth inning, adding to the alarming walk rate he and many other Braves relievers have.

Both walked away from Monday night's 10-4 loss to the Reds anticipating a restless night back at the team hotel.

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CINCINNATI -- Mike Foltynewicz set the tone for the night with an erratic effort, abbreviated by his inability to command his fastball. Sam Freeman's command issues fueled the Reds' decisive five-run sixth inning, adding to the alarming walk rate he and many other Braves relievers have.

Both walked away from Monday night's 10-4 loss to the Reds anticipating a restless night back at the team hotel.

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"It's a killer," Freeman said of the walks. "It makes it hard to sleep at night. That's something we have control over. We pretty much handed it to them tonight, speaking for myself. That's a tough one to swallow."

Freeman issued a pair of walks, including one of the leadoff variety, and surrendered a single before handing the ball to Peter Moylan, who promptly allowed Jesse Winker's go-ahead, bases-loaded single. Former Braves prospect Jose Peraza added a two-out single off Moylan, who then watched as Jesse Biddle allowed the Reds to complete their five-run inning with Joey Votto's bases-loaded walk and Scooter Gennett's two-run single.

"The walks are still a concern overall," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We've been getting away with it, but it's just tough. We're going to have to do a better job of getting in the strike zone better."

Video: ATL@CIN: Snitker discusses pitching after 10-4 loss

With four more added to their total during this series opener, Braves relievers have now issued 61 walks over 80 1/3 innings this year. No other Major League club's bullpen entered Monday having allowed more than 44 walks.

Dating back to April 14, when the Cubs erased a five-run lead with just three hits during a nine-run eighth inning, Braves relievers have issued 30 walks over 26 2/3 innings. The frigid conditions might have been uncomfortable that day at Wrigley Field, but so too have been the results that have followed. The Braves entered this season feeling that A.J. Minter, Jose Ramirez and Freeman could be solid setup men for closer Arodys Vizcaino. Minter hasn't been as sharp as he was last year, but he's still been quite effective. Ramirez was placed on the disabled list last week after he issued five walks within a span of four outs. Freeman has now issued eight walks over his past 2 1/3 innings.

Snitker said he felt he's taxed Freeman, who has made a Major League-high 14 appearances, none of which have come on consecutive days since April 14. But the accountable left-handed reliever -- who has battled control problems in the past -- said fatigue has nothing to do with the results.

"These struggles this past week is just a lack of execution," Freeman said. "Back to work tomorrow. Get it corrected."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One too many mistakes: Foltynewicz was embarrassed by the fact that he did not complete six innings for the fifth time in six starts. He issued two of his four walks during a 30-pitch first inning, which he escaped unscathed by stranding the bases loaded. But in the fifth, the one-out walk he issued Billy Hamilton, who has a .286 on-base percentage, proved costly after Scott Schebler drilled a letter-high, 0-2 fastball over the center-field wall for a game-tying, two-run homer.

"At the end of the day, I just didn't do my job as a starter," said Foltynewicz, who threw 103 pitches over 4 1/3 innings. "This year, it seems like I've been scratching and clawing just to get to the fifth inning. It's a little embarrassing. I let the team down and let the bullpen down tonight. They had a lot to pick up."

Markakis delivers: Braves right fielder Nick Markakis capped his three-hit game with a two-run single in the eighth and started it with the fourth-inning, one-out homer he hit off Reds starter Sal Romano. The solo shot was the 26th homer he's hit since joining the Braves in 2015, but just the third of the opposite-field variety. The veteran outfielder has hit .301 with three home runs through 83 at-bats.

"He's been swinging the bat really well," Snitker said. "He's just steady. He's had some really solid at-bats."

Video: ATL@CIN: Markakis goes opposite field for solo homer

SOUND SMART
Braves relievers have started nine of their past 25 innings with a hit by pitch or walk.

The Reds had gone 244 consecutive plate appearances without a home run before Foltynewicz allowed the solo shot to Schebler, who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day.

HE SAID IT
"Guys will go to work and look at tape and all that kind of stuff. I don't know if it's going to be a trend for us going forward for the entire summer. It's just one of those things you've got to work to fix and right your ship a little bit as we go forward." -- Snitker, on his bullpen's walk total

UP NEXT
Ozzie Albies will attempt to match a Braves franchise record during Tuesday night's game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Albies has recorded 16 extra-base hits; Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy and Justin Upton share the club record with 17 extra-base hits through the end of April. Brandon McCarthy will start for the Braves. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. ET.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Jesse Biddle, Mike Foltynewicz, Sam Freeman, Nick Markakis, Peter Moylan