ATLANTA — Here comes the adversity, minimal though it might be, the first test of how Dave Martinez and his team handle their mistakes. The Washington Nationals lost, 7-1, to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. They lost their first series against a division opponent. They did not play well.

The Nationals’ short-lived aura of invincibility is gone, the autopilot that seemed to navigate this team gone. After four games in which everything — every big play, every key swing, every decision — went to plan, the Nationals will head home for their home opener well aware of their own fallibility. Six games into the season, that may not be a bad thing.

Max Scherzer struggled through five innings in which he allowed five runs on six hits. The Nationals’ defense let him down. The Nationals’ offense couldn’t produce. Martinez’s biggest decision of the day backfired, leaving him with a dangerously short bench. Uncomfortable moments such as these are inevitable in a six-month season. But until Wednesday, this team hadn’t encountered any.

Scherzer seemed like the solution to Tuesday’s loss, the secret weapon that would prevent a losing streak. But he struggled to put away the Braves, wrestling their left-handed hitters through lengthy at-bats that pushed his pitch count to 110 in just five innings.

“I didn’t have good put-away pitches. I got to two strikes and just didn’t seem to put guys away. That led to at-bats kind of getting extended,” Scherzer said. “They were able to grind out their at-bats and get hits on pitches that later in the at-bat I didn’t execute as well.”

One such pitch was a 1-2 curveball to Preston Tucker in the first inning, a pitch Scherzer meant to be in the dirt but that he instead left up at Tucker’s knees. Swinging at everything because of the count, Tucker found a friendly offering and hit it out, a three-run homer that stunned Scherzer in the bottom of the first.

Surrendering home runs has been Scherzer’s weakness throughout his Nationals tenure, but his approach to them is this: Solo homers are the price one pays for challenging hitters regularly. Tucker’s was worth three runs, and it stung Scherzer.

But even Scherzer’s extensive pregame planning cannot combat human error, which is why he was facing Tucker with men on in the first place. With two outs and a man on second, Wilmer Difo booted a routine groundball that would have ended the inning before it ever got to Tucker.

“It was just a regular groundball,” Difo said through team interpreter Octavio Martinez. “I tried to field it and make the play, and unfortunately it didn’t come out that way.”

The fielder’s job is to make a pitcher throw as few pitches as possible. The pitcher’s job is not to let one error turn into a big inning. Neither Scherzer nor Difo did his job in that instance Wednesday.

The Nationals struggled at the plate, too. Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz shut down a lineup that had been relentless to this point, striking out eight. The Nationals left 12 runners on base but were not able to apply nearly the same pressure to Foltynewicz as they have to those starters who came before him. Bryce Harper, who entered Wednesday without a strikeout in 25 plate appearances this season, struck out twice.

Sensing a slow offensive day, Martinez tried to take advantage of a bases-loaded, two-out chance in the sixth inning by pinch-hitting Brian Goodwin for Pedro Severino against right-hander Peter Moylan. The Braves were warming up lefty Sam Freeman and brought him in for the lefty Goodwin.

At that point, Martinez decided against letting Goodwin — 3 for 5 against Freeman in his career — hit for himself and chose Ryan Zimmerman instead. But Goodwin had been announced, so he was a casualty of the moment. Zimmerman struck out looking at a pitch he thought was high, by which time Martinez was left with just Howie Kendrick on his bench and little margin for later error.

“It was all about the matchups. I knew that if they bring Freeman in, Zim matched up really well with him,” Martinez said. “. . . We’re trying to come back, and a perfect opportunity, you’re just going to use Zim to pinch-hit, and that was a perfect spot for him.”

Sometimes, no matter how much thought or planning goes into its construction and implementation, this lineup will sputter. Decisions will not pay off and will be questioned in hindsight. Sometimes, Scherzer will not look like a Cy Young Award winner. He surrendered two earned runs in his first loss of the year.

That the pitching staff, the defense and the offense stumbled at the same time Wednesday, and that Martinez’s late-inning push did not pay off, meant the Nationals dropped their first series of the season. They have built themselves for the long run, built plans around October, crafted expectations around playoff redemption. But Wednesday should serve as a reminder that nothing is given, because winning is not nearly as easy as the Nationals were making it look.