Bullpen, hitting woes again cost D-backs in third straight loss to Braves

PHOENIX — There has been a road map to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ struggles on the front end of their 10-game homestand.

The D-backs have been unable to get a big hit on several occasions and the bullpen has faltered.

On Sunday, those issues again flared up in Arizona’s 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Jon Duplantier had his worst outing as a major leaguer and the D-backs finished 1-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 men on base.

Arizona has now lost three games in a row and six of its past eight overall.

“We just couldn’t get that big hit at the right time with runners in scoring position to cash in,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said after the game.

Much like in their previous games against Atlanta in the series, the D-backs were forced to play from behind early.

Zack Godley made his return — albeit brief — to the rotation and allowed one run in two innings.

The D-backs loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, but Christian Walker struck out and Wilmer Flores grounded out.

Duplantier replaced Godley in the third inning and subsequently allowed RBI hits to Johan Camargo and Tyler Flowers that let the Braves push their lead to 4-0.

It was the first time in five appearances this season the rookie, who was optioned to Triple-A Reno after the game, has allowed a run.

“Little frustrated with the first inning and a couple of pitches here and there afterwards,” Duplantier said. “Overall, it’s a learning experience.”

The D-backs broke through in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI single from Carson Kelly.

Adam Jones followed with a two-run home run two batters later to make it 4-3, but it was the closest the D-backs would get.

Arizona’s best chance of tying the game came in the seventh inning.

The D-backs loaded the bases with one out, but Walker and Flores again couldn’t provide the big hit.

Walker struck out then Flores lofted a ball to right field that forced a diving catch from three-time Gold Glove winner Nick Markakis to end the inning.

“I think that diving play by Markakis was obviously a key play,” Lovullo said. “If he doesn’t make that play, who knows what happens.

“Once again, situational hitting seemed to be a theme today.”

The Braves made the D-backs pay for their lack of clutch hitting in the following half inning when Flowers laced an RBI triple to push the lead to 5-3.

Arizona again put runners in scoring position in the eighth inning with two outs, but Ketel Marte grounded out to end the rally.

“You’re going to get 600 bats in a season and look bad 200 times,” Jones said. “It’s about grinding it out. You can look bad in one at-bat, but you get three strikes. You can look bad in one at-bat, but you get four or five [per game].

“It’s about turning the page and understanding how to be there for the team.”

Arizona (22-19) continues its homestand on Monday when Pittsburgh arrives at Chase Field for a three-game series.