Pinpointing Archie Bradley’s struggles is easy.
Figuring out how to get the Arizona Diamondbacks starter back to form prior to being struck in the face by a line drive is proving more difficult.
For the fourth straight start since his return, Bradley allowed at least four runs.
The Atlanta Braves roughed up the 22-year-old right-hander for five runs total to win Monday’s series opener, 8-1, in front of an announced crowd of 18,258 at Chase Field.
Bradley (2-3) lost his second straight start and it marked his third loss in his last four starts overall.
He gave up three runs in the second and another two in the fifth before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the inning.
Bradley threw 96 pitches, and while his fastball command improved, he struggled with his secondary pitches, in which the Braves made him pay to the tune of eight hits, including a two-run home run to Freddie Freeman. He and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons had three hits apiece.
Bradley also walked three — one intentional — while hitting a batter and striking out one.
Even on a good night, Bradley and the D-backs may not have been a match for Braves starter Alex Wood.
Now 3-0 in his last three starts, Wood (4-2) went eight innings, allowing the one run on seven hits. He walked no one and struck out four.
The Braves have won three straight, while the D-backs lost for the second time in as many days.
First pitch A.J. Pollock saw — an 89 mph fastball — was lined into center field for a one-out single in the first inning; and as it happened to be, it was the D-backs one and only hit through the first three innings. Pollock went 1-for-4 and has now hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games at a .396 clip (21-for-53).
After striking out on five pitches in the first inning, Paul Goldschmidt turned the tables on Wood, ripping a 2-2 offering into right field for a one-out base hit in the fourth, picking up where he left off in May. Goldschmidt finished 1-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to five games in which he is batting .500 (11-for-22).
As he’s been known to do on occasion this season, Nick Ahmed bunted his way on base. It came with one out in the fifth inning, advancing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to third base, who scored two batters later on Ender Inciarte’s sacrifice fly to center field to make it a 5-1 ballgame. In fact, Ahmed now has three bunt singles and is hitting .350 (21-for-60) in his last 18 games.
Bradley got two quick outs in the second inning and then watched as the next six batters reached base safely, including Wood, who drove in two with a first-pitch base hit up the middle. Simmons would later hit an RBI single to center field, and in the process, extend his hitting streak to 10 games. All told, Bradley faced nine batters and threw 33 pitches in the three-run inning.
Bradley hasn’t given up many home runs, but the three he has surrendered this season have all occurred since coming off the disabled list. The third left the yard in the fifth inning. It was a two-run shot off the bat of Freeman that landed on the concourse just to the right of the batter’s eye in center field, extending the Braves lead to 5-0. Freeman has now homered in back-to-back games for the second time this season.
Poor decision by Yasmany Tomas in the fifth. He ran the D-backs out of the inning as he was thrown out 8-6-4 trying to take second base on Inciarte’s sac fly, with Pollock and Goldschmidt due up, and Ahmed standing at third base. The D-backs didn’t have many scoring chances against Wood and wasted one there.
A so-called lefty specialist is supposed to get left-handed hitters out. Oliver Perez has struggled in that department this season. Though he entered the game having limited lefties to a .133 average (2-for-15) over his last 11 appearances, Perez failed to retire any of the three lefties he faced in the sixth. In fact, all three — Jace Peterson, Nick Markakis and Freeman — recorded hits, with Peterson and Freeman driving in runs to extend the Braves lead to 7-1.
STAT OF THE GAME
10.91: Bradley’s ERA (19 ER in 15.2 IP) in four starts since coming off the disabled list.
HE SAID IT (Part I)
“His stuff is just not the same since he got hit,” manager Chip Hale said of Bradley.
HE SAID IT (Part II)
“I mean, yeah, I haven’t pitched well since I came back but I don’t think it’s anything from that,” Bradley said. “I’m not scared. I’m just not pitching well.”
Freeman has an 11-game hitting streak against the D-backs dating back to May 15, 2013.
Former D-back Trevor Cahill worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including a strikeout of Mark Trumbo.
Pollock and Goldschmidt each committed a fielding error; Pollock his second, Goldschmidt’s first.
Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Winless in his last four starts, Josh Collmenter takes the mound in game two of the three-game series on Tuesday.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on ESPN Phoenix 620.
Collmenter (3-5) has not earned a victory since he beat Colorado at Coors Field on May 6.
The good news, however, is that the D-backs Opening Day starter has held opponents to two runs in each of his last two outings.
Collmenter is 1-3 with a 3.70 ERA in four career starts against the Braves.
Atlanta, meanwhile, counters with fellow right-hander Shelby Miller, baseball’s ERA co-leader at 1.48, tied with Zach Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Miller (5-2) is coming off a loss at San Francisco, though he held the Giants to only one run on five hits over seven innings.
Last month he pitched two complete game shutouts.
Miller — currently in his first season with the Braves — won his first and only start against the D-backs on June 6, 2013, allowing two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts and zero walks in six innings to help lead his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, to a 7-3 victory at Chase Field.