By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Mike Soroka did not allow a hit until the seventh inning, Freddie Freeman homered and drove in both runs, and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 2-0 on Wednesday.
Soroka, the youngest pitcher in the major leagues and one of baseball’s top prospects, returned from a right shoulder strain that sidelined him since May 17 to outpitch NL ERA leader Jacob deGrom in a game that lasted only 2 hours, 12 minutes.
The Mets have lost 10 of their past 11 and 17 of their past 21.
Making his fourth career start, Soroka (2-1) gave up one hit, one walk and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings.
Freeman, the NL batting leader, has hit safely in 23 of his past 24 games. He drove in the first run with a single in the fourth off deGrom (4-2). He homered off Jeremy Blevins in the eighth.
Freeman has five homers in his past seven games and 14 overall.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said that Soroka would be on a pitch count, so it was no surprise when he replaced him with A.J. Minter after Michael Conforto singled to begin the seventh after 74 pitches.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson, playing deep near second base, fielded the ball cleanly on the outfield grass, but his throw sailed over Freeman’s glove at first.
DeGrom (4-2) allowed seven hits and one run and struck out seven in seven innings and threw 86 pitches. He began the game leading with majors with a 0.81 ERA since April 21, but trailed 1-0 in the fourth when Swanson doubled with one out and scored on Freeman’s single.
Left fielder Brandon Nimmo let Freeman’s single bounce up and hit him in the chest. He didn’t pick the ball up cleanly and Swanson scored from second.
The punchless Mets have scored 10 runs in their past 78 innings and began the day 14th in the NL in runs scored. New York has lost deGrom’s past five outings even though he’s allowed only five runs over that span.
Conforto moved to second on a wild pitch by Soroka in the seventh inning, but didn’t advance when Minter struck out Nimmo and Jay Bruce popped up.
Soroka’s other base runner was Bruce, who walked to begin the second inning. The next batter, Kevin Plawecki, grounded into a double play.
Dan Winkler faced four batters in the eighth for Atlanta. Arodys Vizcaino earned his 12th save in 14 chances in a shaky ninth. Nimmo doubled with two outs, advancing Conforto, who walked to third before Bruce popped up to end it.
Freeman is hitting .385 going back to May 19. Facing a shift in the fourth, Freeman went to the opposite field on his single, improving his average since the start of 2013 with runners in scoring position to .361, best in the majors over that span. He’s hitting .413 against the Mets in 12 games this year and has a .318 average, 22 homers and 94 RBIs in 134 games against the Mets.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard has been prescribed more rest after getting a second opinion on a strained ligament in his index finger. Manager Mickey Callaway said Syndergaard’s right finger is “tender to the touch.” Syndergaard, on the disabled list retroactive to May 26, was examined Tuesday in New York. There is no immediate timetable for his return.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran, out since June 5 with a right thumb contusion, is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, but the Braves have yet to announce their rotation for the weekend.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (2-4, 3.53 ERA) threw a season-high 105 pitches in his previous start, a no-decision against the Yankees. He’ll face Matt Koch (4-3, 4.20) as the Mets open a series against the Diamondbacks.
Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 2.37 ERA) will try for his first victory in six starts against San Diego against the Padres’ Tyson Ross (5-3, 3.43).
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Ozzie Albies watched the ball sail into the right-field seats and savored the moment.
“It feels great,” he said. “I just see the ball going and I just enjoyed it.”
Albies hit a grand slam and Freddie Freeman homered during a six-run sixth inning, and the Atlanta Braves beat the reeling New York Mets 8-2 on Tuesday night.
Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out six, but left the game after batting in the fifth with triceps tightness. He told reporters that “it’s nothing to worry about” and that he’ll make his next scheduled start.
Ender Inciarte added a pair of RBI singles to help Atlanta shake a rough West Coast trip, when it lost four of six. The Braves moved ahead of Washington for first in the NL East by beating a Mets team that has lost nine of 10 and 16 of 20
The Braves led 1-0 in the fourth on Inciarte’s RBI single. New York went up 2-1 in the sixth on Jay Bruce’s two-run ground-rule double, but that was it for the Mets, who have scored 10 runs in their last 78 innings.
Freeman’s 13th homer in the bottom half of the inning tied it, and Inciarte’s single put the Braves ahead for good. A walk to pinch-hitter Preston Tucker loaded the bases and chased starter Zack Wheeler (2-5), and Albies cleared the bases with his 16th homer, coming off Paul Sewald, for a 7-2 lead.
Albies is the first player 21 or younger to hit multiple grand slams in a season since Adrian Beltre hit two for the Dodgers in 2000. He’s the second Braves second baseman with two grand slams in a season, joining Davey Johnson in 1973.
Albies, the NL leader in extra-base hits and runs, had been scuffling with a .125 average since June 1.
“The last two games he’s had some really good at-bats,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “You know what he’s capable of. He’s a dynamic young man.”
Shane Carle (4-1) faced just one batter to get the win. Devin Mesoraco grounded sharply to third baseman Johan Camargo, who lunged to his right to tag Asdrubal Cabrera and made a low throw from his knees that Freeman dug out at first for a double play.
Wheeler allowed eight hits, six runs, four walks and struck out two in 5 2/3 innings.
Foltynewicz, who pitched his first career complete game in his last home start, hit the first batter Tuesday before retiring 13 straight. Mesoraco and Dominic Smith each singled with one out in the top of the fifth, but Foltynewicz escaped trouble with a pair of popups.
Braves pitching coach Chuck Hernandez noticed Foltynewicz was uncomfortable, shaking his right arm after making a pitch. After Foltynewicz acknowledged the triceps were tight, Snitker decided to take him out.
TAKE A SEAT
Mickey Callaway was ejected for the first time as Mets manager after arguing with home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater in the top of the sixth. Brandon Nimmo was hit by Jesse Biddle’s pitch on his elbow, but Scheurwater ruled he did not attempt to get out of the way and declined to award Nimmo first base. Callaway was thrown out while standing near the right-hand side of the batter’s box. “Obviously they thought Nim put his elbow out in front of the plate to get hit on purpose, but the ball was in the batter’s box, kind of at our player,” Callaway said.
Nick Markakis went 3 for 4 and added an RBI double in the seventh to make it 8-2. … Freeman improved to 8 for 16 with 10 walks against Wheeler. … New York’s bullpen has a 6.68 ERA in its last 17 games. … Smith, in his first major league game this season, went 1 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Mets: Cabrera was back in the lineup, going 0 for 4 after leaving Sunday’s win over the Yankees in the third inning with left hamstring tightness. Callaway said he will likely give Cabrera an off day with a 12:10 p.m. start on Wednesday.
Braves: LF Ronald Acuna Jr. is hitting off a tee, swinging in the batting cage and running, but has yet to resume what manager vigorous baseball activities. It will be Thursday, at the earliest, before the 20-year-old begins a rehab assignment. Acuna, sidelined 14 games with a left ACL sprain and bruises to his left knee and lower back, said through a translator that he feels no pain when he runs, swings and throws.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-1, 1.57 ERA) leads the majors since April 21 with a 0.81 ERA — a span of nine starts and 55 1/3 innings — but New York has lost his past four outings. He is 5-3 with a 1.84 ERA in 14 career starts against Atlanta.
Braves: Snitker said RHP Mike Soroka will be on a 90-pitch limit while returning from a shoulder strain that’s sidelined him since May 12. Soroka made his first career start May 1, allowing six hits and one run in six innings to beat the Mets in New York.
More AP baseball: HERE
Bradford Doolittle – ESPN Staff Writer
I WAS WATCHING the Braves play the New York Mets on my phone while cruising in mild traffic from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta to Cobb County, Georgia, home of the Braves and a fantasy world of their own creation. My car was piloted by an amiable Jamaican woman, and we were discussing the dark storm clouds overhead when Charlie Culberson struck lightning.
Culberson’s two-run walk-off shot against Seth Lugo sent the big crowd at SunTrust Park into a frenzy, as Culberson’s teammates pounded him on the back and pulled on his jersey amid the group dance around home plate.
“Oh, did they win?” my driver asked. Her accent was sublime.
“Yep,” I said. “Game-winning home run.”
“Good for them,” she said. She pulled into the driveway of my hotel, located on the edge of The Battery, the still-sparkling, mixed-use development that the Braves moved into and have lorded over since last season. It sits in a pocket of land between two major freeways, some woods and busy Cobb County Parkway, about 12 miles from downtown Atlanta. I did not step foot outside of The Battery until I departed nearly a week later. The Braves developed all of it, some on their own, some with partners. It’s a self-contained village in a place that did not exist five years ago. Like I said, it’s their fantasy land.
The dramatic win kicked off the biggest homestand for the Braves in at least four years. Atlanta entered the eight-games-in-seven-days challenge in first place in the National League East. But the division rival New York Metswere in for four games, hitting Atlanta on a runaway locomotive destined for oblivion. After New York limped away, the perennial NL East favorite Washington Nationals arrived.
Chances were that by the end of the week, we would know a whole lot more about the group we’ve taken to calling the Baby Braves. Culberson’s unlikely blast got things rolling, though that night Atlanta dropped a rain-delayed second game that didn’t get started until after 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
Every season, teams emerge as contenders that we had not expected to emerge. That is a literal statement. During the divisional era, an average of 5.6 teams per season have added at least 10 wins to their total from the prior campaign. There is more than one team this season on track for such an improvement, but of those, perhaps the most compelling is the Atlanta Braves, who through Sunday were on pace for 92 wins. That would be a 20-game leap from last season. The last time Atlanta made a 20-game year-over-year jump was 1991, which kicked off one of the most successful eras any franchise has had in any sport.
The Baby Braves label is not a perfect fit. After all, not only is the current Atlanta roster a mix, but also much of its early success is due to breakout performances from players who have been around for a while. The Braves’ average team age (28.7 when weighted for playing time) ranks 13th in baseball. Still, youth fuels this team — of that there can be no doubt. At one point in May, the Braves had the three youngest players in the majors on their active roster. That, and its alliterative allure, made Baby Braves an acceptable enough moniker, even though the Baby Bombers label that has been hung on the New York Yankees strips it of any originality.
“All of [the veterans’] knowledge has been so good for us,” reliever Dan Winklersaid of the mix in the Atlanta clubhouse. “Then you bring guys like Ozzie [Albies] and [Ronald] Acuna, it’s just been a great mesh of guys.”
One of the not-Baby Braves is 39-year-old Australian reliever Peter Moylan, who returned to Atlanta this offseason. He broke into the majors with the Braves and played with the club until 2012 before departing as a free agent. He has had a firsthand look at either end of the rebuild.
“It was shocking to see,” Moylan said. “It was a completely different team from the time I left here and when I came back. You hear about young guys when they are coming through the system, but there is still an adjustment period when they get to the big leagues. I see the young talent we’ve got around this clubhouse, but there is a good group of older guys too. But these young guys we’ve got here are as good as I’ve seen.”
The Braves are a team that knows where it’s going, understands where it is and is all too cognizant of where it has been. The excitement in Cobb County is building. You can sense it in the air as you move through the pulsating Battery on a game day. You can also see it in Atlanta’s rising attendance numbers.
The thing is, if not for some forward thinking by an executive with one of baseball’s most glorious pasts, things might be very different. READ MORE>
BY JILL PAINTER LOPEZ, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With every swing, Max Muncy becomes more valuable to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Muncy homered in his third straight game, Logan Forsythe and Enrique Hernandez also connected, and the Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 7-2 Sunday.
Muncy’s 12 home runs match the total he hit last year while spending the whole season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit a solo drive in the fifth inning to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 4-2, and drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth.
“Just a good stretch for me. That’s how baseball goes. It seems like there’s a lot of pitches over the plate for me,” he said.
“I’m sure it won’t be long before I have a stretch where it seems everything is right on the corner. That’s kind of how it goes. When you get in a stretch like this, you have to take advantage of it,” he said.
The Dodgers took the series from Atlanta and have won seven of their last nine games. The NL champions moved to 33-32 — they have not been more than one game over .500 this season.
Ross Stripling (5-1) has been the Dodgers’ most consistent – and healthy – part of the rotation. He allowed home runs by Ozzie Albies, his 15th, and Freddie Freeman, his 12th, in the fourth inning. Stripling gave up four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Stripling also had a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base to complete an all-around day of solid work.
“I was able to get off to a good start, going through the lineup once in less than 30 pitches so I was in a good spot,” Stripling said. “Then I had a 33-pitch fourth, the two homers and I was able to limit it to that. After that, you just try to get through that inning and settle back down. I was able to do that and gave us a chance to win, which is what I was trying to do when I went out there.”
Muncy is a tough out, a power hitter with tremendous plate discipline.
“He doesn’t expand the strike zone at all,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Muncy. “He just has such discipline and patience at the plate. I’m impressed. He fought his way through the ranks and is getting an opportunity and making the most of it.”
Muncy, who played a total of 96 games for Oakland in 2015-16, has been subbing at third base for the injured Justin Turner, who has returned from his fractured wrist but still is experiencing soreness.
Forsythe hit a solo homer off Sean Newcomb (7-2) in a three-run third to give the Dodgers the lead. He hadn’t allowed a home run in his previous 44 innings pitched.
Newcomb gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. It was uncharacteristic to give up the long ball.
“I wasn’t making the pitches I was supposed to and I was just kind of leaving them there for them to hit,” Newcomb said. “It all happened really fast there in the fourth inning, or whenever (third inning) they scored their three runs.”
Matt Kemp hit an RBI single against his former team in the Dodgers third.
MAKING IT LOOK EASY
Yasiel Puig struck out in the Dodgers third, and cleanly broke a bat over his knee on the first try. Just Yasiel Puig doing Yasiel Puig things.
Dodgers: Turner (soreness left wrist) was not in the lineup for the fifth time in the last six games. His returned was delayed because of continued soreness. Dave Roberts said they are not thinking disabled list and plan to have him back Tuesday … LHP Clayton Kershaw (back) has done long toss and thrown on flat ground. He will next throw a bullpen at a time to be determined and then after that a simulated game … RHP Kenta Maeda (right hip strain) threw a bullpen Sunday and will possibly rejoin the rotation on Wednesday.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.31) allowed two runs on five hits in five innings in his last start, a loss against the Padres. He has a combined 19 strikeouts in his last two starts.
Dodgers: After a day off, Los Angeles hosts Texas on Tuesday night.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
By JILL PAINTER LOPEZ, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Atlanta Braves expected big contributions from Freddie Freeman and Tyler Flowers this season.
Charlie Culberson has been a little more of a surprise, although the Los Angeles Dodgers know all about his timely hitting.
Freeman and Culberson each had three hits, Flowers drove in three runs and the upstart Braves beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Saturday night.
Both of Culberson’s home runs with the Braves this year have been pinch-hit walk-off shots. He also had a memorable game-ending homer as Los Angeles clinched the NL West in 2016 in Vin Scully’s final broadcast at Dodger Stadium.
Culberson, also a Dodger last year, was presented with his NL Championship Series ring before the game, then went out and helped beat his old teammates and push Atlanta to 37-27. Baseball operations leaders Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Stan Kasten came over to congratulate Culberson, as did manager Dave Roberts.
“That was a neat feeling,” Culberson said.
Flowers had a two-run double in the third and an RBI single in the fifth that helped put Atlanta ahead 4-1 and chase starter Alex Wood. The Braves racked up 14 hits total.
Atlanta starter Anibal Sanchez (2-0) allowed two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two. Arodys Vizcaino pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save.
“I’m not going to say that I’m doing some special right now that I didn’t do the last few years,” Sanchez said. “I think I did the same but I think confidence is better right now. The whole location, game plan, I think everything is coming out good.”
Max Muncy hit a solo home run to right field in the first inning for the Dodgers. It was Muncy’s 11th home run and second in two games. He also walked three times to raise his OPS to a team-leading .978.
“It’s big-time. You never know what can happen and you get on base any way you can,” Muncy said. “Passed ball and you’re in scoring position or ball in the gap and you’re scoring. Anything can happen when you get a guy on base, and that’s kind of the whole point of the game.”
Yasiel Puig, who was pinch hit for a day earlier for what Roberts called “in-house reasons,” scored on a wild pitch to pull the Dodgers within 5-3 in the seventh.
In the lineup for the second consecutive day against his former team, Culberson hit a run-scoring single to right to tie the game at 1.
Wood (1-5) pitched better than his previous start in which he was pulled after allowing six runs in two innings at Colorado.
Wood allowed nine hits and four runs — two earned — in 4 2/3 innings Saturday. He struck out six and walked none but had to work out of jams much of his outing after putting so many runners on base.
“It’s been a tough three starts for me, probably the toughest of my career,” Wood said. “It’s one of those things where you’re just grinding really hard. You’ve got to think one of these next few it will start to turn. There’s definitely some frustration for sure.”
Roberts pointed to the cramp and hamstring and abductor issues Wood has dealt with, but Wood didn’t blame any physical issues on his performance.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (right thumb bruise) played catch Saturday. … RHP Mike Soroka (muscle strain near right shoulder) will come off the disabled list and start Wednesday against the Mets.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler has bruised ribs, but scans and X-rays showed no further damage after the rookie was lifted from a start with pain in his side Friday. Buehler said Saturday he is uncertain how much time he’ll miss or if he’ll need to go on the disabled list. … LHP Rich Hill (blister) threw a four-inning sim game Saturday and Roberts said he threw the ball well. He threw 60 pitches without the blister covered. … Dennis Santana (right rotator cuff strain) was transferred from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list … INF Justin Turner (soreness left wrist) was not in the lineup for the fourth time in the last five games but is expected to be back Sunday. … RHP Kenta Maeda (right hip strain) is expected to throw a bullpen Sunday and if that goes well, the team can put him back in the rotation.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (7-1, 1.52) has won seven of the last eight games he’s started. In his last outing against the Padres, he allowed no runs and just three hits in six innings.
Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (4-1, 1.52) has been fantastic, especially over his last four starts – all wins. During that stretch, he’s given up a combined two runs in 24 2/3 innings. He’s been the most stable starter in an injury-ravaged rotation.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
BY JILL PAINTER LOPEZ, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Walker Buehler was looking like the answer to the Dodgers’ injury woes. Then he became just another problem.
Buehler was pulled from his start Friday night with rib soreness, and Los Angeles overcame another blow to its depleted pitching staff by hitting five home runs to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-3 on Friday night.
Buehler was hit in the ribs by a comebacker from Colorado’s Trevor Story on May 21, and Friday was his third start since then. But a problem was evident to manager Dave Roberts in the sixth inning when Buehler’s velocity dropped.
“Seemed like he wasn’t letting it go like he was earlier,” Roberts said. “For me, that was a big red flag.”
Yasmani Grandal went deep twice, hitting his 99th and 100th career home runs, and Joc Pederson, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger also homered to help the Dodgers win their sixth in seven games despite a decimated rotation. They’re already without Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dennis Santana, and now maybe Buehler, too.
The Dodgers said Buehler was sent for Friday night, so he was unavailable for comment. Roberts said he had been getting treatment for the ribs issue the last few weeks.
The rookie right-hander was perfect through four innings and still cruising with one out in the sixth when Roberts and trainer Nathan Lucero went to the mound. Buehler said during a lengthy discussion that he was having difficulty breathing, and was pulled.
“You look at the first five innings, there were (9)6s, (9)7s and 98s,” Roberts said. “The velocity was there. The stuff was really good. It was that sixth inning he kind of hit a wall.”
Roberts hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Asked about the plethora of injuries, Roberts said: “If you’re a pitcher on this staff, heads up.”
Buehler (4-1) had just struck out Johan Camargo when Roberts and Lucero ran onto the field. Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte relieved Buehler.
It was a difficult thing to watch for the Dodgers pitching staff, but the bullpen came through, allowing a combined two runs over the final 3 2/3 innings to preserve Buehler’s win.
“It makes my stomach sick, to be honest you,” said Kenley Jansen, who pitched a scoreless ninth. “It was a crazy game. Thank God (Pat) Venditte and (Adam Liberatore) picked it up. Me coming in to close it out, that was great.”
Los Angeles’ injury woes have picked up steam the past couple days. Santana was scratched from a scheduled start in Pittsburgh on Thursday after getting injured warming up in the bullpen. Roberts had gone to the bullpen 16 times over the two games previous to Friday.
Pederson and Muncy hit back-to-back homers in the sixth, the fourth time this season LA has hit consecutive home runs.
Bellinger has homered in four straight games for the first time in his career.
Buehler allowed one run on two hits and struck out four. He’s been sensational for a starting rotation that’s desperately needed it.
Nick Markakis singled off Buehler in the fifth to break up a perfect game. Camargo later homered for the Braves, but the Dodgers bullpen pitched well.
“We thought maybe when they had to go to the bullpen a little early it would keep them off the mound and we’d have a chance to put something together, but they did a good job holding us and kept adding on,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Both of Grandal’s home runs came off former teammate and batterymate Brandon McCarthy (5-3), who allowed four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Pederson homered in the sixth inning, giving him four home runs in his last four games. Pederson has just seven home runs this season, six of them in June. Pederson’s home run chased McCarthy.
“It was three really terrible pitches to a team that’s not missing terrible pitches right now,” McCarthy said. “The home runs were earned and struck well. I feel like I’ve thrown pretty well, it just hasn’t all come together. Today was day I just chalk up to being a bad day.”
Chris Taylor pinch hit for Yasiel Puig in the sixth inning. Puig was picked off first in the first inning but stayed in the game after that.
Roberts called it an “in-house thing” and said Puig is fine and would be back in the lineup Saturday.
Braves: OF Ronald Acuna (knee, back) hit off a tee and was jogging in Atlanta on Friday. … RHP Julio Teheran (right thumb bruise) is expected to start throwing in the next day or two.
Dodgers: Hill (blister) will throw a four-inning sim game Saturday. He said he expects to be activated and pitch for the Dodgers next week if all goes well. … Santana (right rotator cuff strain) was placed on the 10-day disabled list. He had his right arm in a sling. … INF Justin Turner (soreness left wrist) was not in the lineup for the third time in last four games. He was available to pinch hit Friday. He could return to the lineup Saturday but is scheduled for Sunday. … Kershaw (back) played catch Friday … Maeda (right hip strain) threw a bullpen of nearly 40 pitches and could be back in the rotation next week.
Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 2.16) had a quality start in his last outing against Washington, allowing two runs on two hits in seven innings, but he didn’t figure into the decision.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (1-4, 4.48) had a rough outing in his last start, giving up six runs on five hits and walking three in his last start in Colorado.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
By BERNIE WILSON, AP Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Freddie Freeman was a triple shy of the cycle when Atlanta manager Brian Snitker took out his first baseman because the Braves were beating the San Diego Padres so badly.
Freeman was OK with the move, because otherwise he would have faced Padres infielder Cory Spangenberg, who pitched the ninth inning of the Braves’ 14-1 blowout win.
“He asked me to come out of the game last night and I said no; he asked me to come out today and I said OK,” Freeman said. “I’m kind of glad. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a hit off a position player, so my last at-bat would have been in that situation.”
Freeman homered and had four hits, and Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis also went deep. Sean Newcomb and Luke Jackson combined on a four-hitter for the NL East leaders, who unloaded with 18 hits one night after losing the series opener 11-4.
The Padres, last in the NL West, were denied their first four-game winning streak of the season.
Newcomb (7-1) allowed only three singles in six innings, and each time the baserunner was erased on a double play. He struck out three and walked four.
“It was good to get some zeros going early in the start, keep pounding the zone,” Newcomb said. “I wasn’t really where I wanted to be command-wise today but I still did a good job of mixing it up and getting some off-speed in there for strikes when I needed to, keeping them off balance.”
Newcomb won his seventh straight decision.
“Every time he goes on the mound you feel pretty confident we’re going to get the win that day,” Freeman said. “He’s been lights-out for a long time and hopefully that continues. He seems to go out there and throw shutout innings every single time he goes out there. What he did tonight was pretty special.”
Jackson almost got through three hitless innings of relief before allowing rookie Franmil Reyes’ monster homer with two outs in the ninth, his sixth. Reyes’ shot, estimated at 455 feet, landed near the back of the Braves’ bullpen in center field and bounced out of the ballpark. Jackson walked two and struck out five in earning his first save.
Spangenberg made his first big league pitching appearance, giving up one run on two hits and a walk.
Freeman’s first three hits were off Jordan Lyles (2-2). The slugger hit an RBI double to right field with two outs in the first and a solo homer to right-center with two outs in the third, his 10th. Freeman also doubled to left-center leading off the fifth and scored on Kurt Suzuki’s one-out double that started a five-run rally.
Charlie Culberson hit a two-run double and Swanson followed with a two-run homer, his sixth, to give Atlanta an 8-0 lead.
“It was just a great response to last night,” Swanson said. “Last night they did it to us and it was nice to be able to come out and string a lot of at-bats together. I think you could really see the momentum shift in our direction early in the game and I think that’s a huge response on our end.”
The Braves scored five more runs in the seventh off Bryan Mitchell. The big hit was Markakis’ three-run homer, his eighth.
Lyles allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
“If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game against a good lineup you’re going to get exposed,” Lyles said. “I don’t feel like I had my good stuff but I think it has more to do with the other side over there. A lot of guys who like to attack and they got their pitches early.
“They got some pitches that they wanted. I can’t really point to any of them because I gave up so many hits tonight. Just one of those you’ve got to sweep under the rug.”
One of the highlights of the night was when a woman caught a foul ball in her beer cup and then chugged the beer.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (5-3, 2.22 ERA) is scheduled to pitch the series finale Wednesday afternoon. He’s 1-0 with a 6.67 ERA in two career starts against San Diego.
Padres: LHP Matt Strahm (1-2, 2.92) is scheduled to start a “bullpen” game that will feature several other relievers.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer
SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Luke Terry has been inspiring friends and family his entire young life.
The one-armed high school catcher from Tennessee can now add a few dozen former and future major league ballplayers to the list.
The 16-year-old Terry had his right arm amputated when he was only 19 months old after he contracted E. coli. That hasn’t prevented him from playing ball, though, and on Monday night the lifelong Braves fan got the opportunity to announce Atlanta’s first-round draft pick: Florida high school pitcher Carter Stewart.
“This was awesome,” said Terry, decked out in a white Braves jersey. “I can’t put it into words.”
When Commissioner Rob Manfred invited the special guest up to the podium at MLB Network studios, the dozens of big leaguers representing their former teams — the likes of which included Bo Jackson, Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy and Rollie Fingers — gave Terry a loud standing ovation.
“It was unbelievable to stand up there and get applause from everybody,” Terry said with a big smile.
Terry recently finished his freshman year at Cornersville High School, where he played catcher and helped his baseball team to a 17-12 record this past season.
Yes, with just one arm.
Terry catches the baseball with his mitted left hand, and throws by tapping the ball up with the glove — which he quickly flips off — and catches it in his left hand.
Videos posted on social media of Terry catching and hitting have gone viral. He has simply refused to let his physical condition ever keep him from achieving his dreams.
“He doesn’t give up,” his mother Dana said. “He doesn’t see himself different than anybody else. He works just as hard as anybody else to earn his spot.”
Terry threw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Braves home game last June, and also caught a first pitch from Hall of Famer Jim Palmer at an Orioles game last season.
“It’s unreal to see how people can see an inspiration over just me going out there and playing ball,” Terry said. “I’m not really ever just thinking about it.”
His big draft day moment came as a total surprise, though. The Braves called his mother Saturday night and asked if it would be OK for her son — whose favorite player is shortstop Dansby Swanson — to fly up to New Jersey and make the team’s pick in person.
“I said, yes, and they wanted me to keep it a secret,” Dana Terry said. “On Sunday night, we found (the announcement) on Facebook, and I jumped up and showed it to him on the phone and he just started screaming.”
Added Luke: “I was just shocked — it was unreal that I’d actually be able to be up there and you’d get to see it on TV.”
The family spent the day touring New York, including checking out Yankee Stadium, before heading to the draft site to prepare for his big moment.
After Luke announced the No. 8 overall pick, Stewart slipped on a Braves jersey of his own and the two shook hands and posed for pictures at the podium along with Manfred. Later in the draft, Stewart invited Terry to sit and chat with him in a makeshift dugout in the studio where all the draft prospects wait to hear their names called.
“It was awesome,” Dana Terry said. “And he’s gotten to know these boys today, so that made it even better to know one of them. I’m so proud of him.”
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Charlie Culberson can’t really explain how he keeps homering as a pinch-hitter.
He’s a career utility man with just eight career homers, but there’s power hidden somewhere in his bat.
“I don’t really know what to say — right place, right time,” he said. “Things just kind of work out. It doesn’t get old. It’s a lot of fun.”
Culberson hit a game-ending, two-run homer to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
It was the second time this week that Culberson delivered a pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning, marking Atlanta’s ninth victory in its last at-bat. The NL East-leading Braves have scored 109 runs in the seventh inning or later, most in the league.
Tanner Roark (2-6) pitched the ninth in his first relief appearance this season, giving up Dansby Swanson’s double and Culberson’s second long ball.
Culberson, who shares left field with Preston Tucker while Ronald Acuna Jr. recovers from injuries, has four game-ending homers and four pinch-hit homers. He went deep against Seth Lugo to beat the New York Mets last Monday.
After watching Swanson beat a tag attempt, Culberson simply wanted to make contact against Roark.
“I don’t hit many home runs, but that was just a good swing,” Culberson said. “I felt like he made a decent pitch on me. I kind of had the feeling it was going out.”
Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino (2-2) allowed his first two batters to reach in the ninth, but Mark Reynolds lined out before Vizcaino struck out Brian Goodwin and Michael Taylor.
Swanson hit his seventh homer to tie it at 2-all in the seventh off Shawn Kelley.
“It’s a family in here,” Swanson said as he glanced around the clubhouse. “It’s special to be a part of.”
The Nationals went up 2-1 in the third when Wilmer Difo reached on Swanson’s throwing error and Trea Turner went deep for the seventh time.
Turner’s homer was the 89th allowed by Braves starter Anibal Sanchez since the start of 2015, but he gave up only two other baserunners — a double and a walk to Taylor. Sanchez struck out five in seven innings.
First baseman Reynolds’ throwing error in the first caused starter Jeremy Hellickson to leave the game after one out. Hellickson, who dropped the ball as he covered the bag on Ozzie Albies’ grounder, immediately clutched the back top of his leg and walked slowly off the field with an apparent right hamstring strain.
Jefry Rodriguez, recalled from the minors earlier in the day with Tim Collins on the paternity list, retired Freddie Freeman on one pitch before Nick Markakis’ two-out single made it 1-0. He settled down to finish his major league debut with three strikeouts and four hits and two walks allowed in 4 2/3 innings.
Washington’s lone win in the four-game series came Saturday night when ace Max Scherzer singled as a pinch-hitter in the 14th inning and scored the tiebreaking run.
“Atlanta’s not going to go away,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They’re really good, so we’ve just got to continue playing baseball.”
Nationals: 2B Daniel Murphy, sidelined all season following micro-fracture surgery in October, has made four errors in six rehab games with Double-A Harrisburg. He and OF Adam Eaton will be reevaluated Monday by the team medical staff. Eaton could return in a few days, but Murphy’s status is less certain. Martinez confirmed that Murphy, who’s hitting .208 with a homer and six RBIs in six games, has labored when he runs and moves laterally. … 1B Matt Adams had negative X-rays after fouling a ball off his right foot and leaving Saturday’s game in the middle of the fourth. … Turner stayed in the game after fouling a ball off his foot in the sixth.
Braves: LHP Luiz Gohara was reinstated from the restricted list after spending over a week with his ill mother in Brazil. Gohara, whose father died during the offseason, will pitch in relief.
Freeman doubled off the top of the wall in the third and is hitting .375 during a 16-game hitting streak, the NL’s longest this season.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (9-1, 1.92 ERA) starts Tuesday against Tampa Bay. The ace leads the majors in wins and strikeouts with 120. He’s coming off an eight-inning performance in which he struck out 12 in eight scoreless innings at Baltimore.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (4-3, 4.03 ERA) will make his ninth career start against the Padres. He’s 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three outings at San Diego. Teheran went 3-2 with a 3.65 ERA in five starts last month.
More AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. (AP) — Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz is making his mark in a new sport.
The 51-year-old Smoltz qualified for the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday, emerging from a three-man playoff to take the final spot.
Three places were up for grabs in the 18-hole qualifier at Planterra Ridge Golf Club in Peachtree City, Georgia, about 30 miles south of Atlanta. Jack Larkin and Sonny Skinner got through in regulation by shooting 4-under 68, with Smoltz and two others one stroke back.
Brian Tennyson was eliminated on the first playoff hole with a bogey. On the third extra hole, Smoltz finished off Brian Ferris despite making double bogey.
Smoltz spent most of his career with the Atlanta Braves. He finished with a record of 213-155 with 154 saves — making him the only pitcher in baseball history with 200 wins and 150 saves. He was an eight-time All-Star and captured the NL Cy Young Award in 1996.
Smoltz also was an avid golfer in his spare time, along with teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. All three were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
The 2018 U.S. Senior Open will be held June 28-July 1 at The Broadmoor-East Course in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
For more AP coverage of baseball and golf: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball and https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Golf