ATLANTA - Lately, the Braves' games have taken on a gloomy monotony.
Give up runs early. Try to fight back. Give up more runs late.
The theme continued Sunday, as Atlanta dropped its fourth consecutive game to give the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks a sweep. It was the first time in more than 11 years that the Braves have been swept in a four-game set - and the first time it's ever happened at Turner Field.
And it continued what has been a miserable homestand for the Braves, who have lost seven of eight since coming back to Atlanta on Monday.
"To get swept at home, that's unacceptable," said outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who struck out three times Sunday.
One week ago, the Braves were 3 games behind the National League East-leading New York Mets; they now stand 6 games behind the New Yorkers and a game below .500 (28-29).
"We've been hitting in spurts, and we've been pitching in spurts," manager Bobby Cox said. "We've had real good pitching, we've had some not-so-good pitching. We need to be consistent is what it is."
The Washington Nationals come into town today on a tear. The Nats have won four of their past five series and completed a three-game sweep at Milwaukee on Sunday.
The Diamondbacks slugged four home runs, including the fourth in two games by Damion Easley. The Braves offense, lethargic throughout the series, managed nine hits but stranded eight base runners.
Braves starter Jorge Sosa (1-7) allowed five runs on nine hits, but Diamondbacks starter Miguel Batista (6-2) didn't get into serious trouble until the seventh, when Edgar Renteria followed a two-out double by Marcus Giles with a home run to left, cutting Arizona's margin to 5-3.
Reach Brandon Larrabee at firstname.lastname@example.org.