By GEORGE HENRY
ATLANTA (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers are hitting home runs at a record pace, and manager Dave Roberts loves every minute of it.
“It makes me look really good, and it makes the Dodgers look really good,” Roberts said. “These are guys that really understand situations, what a pitcher is trying to do to them. Guys like that you want in big spots.”
Cody Bellinger hit his 41st home run, Max Muncy and Justin Turner connected against reliever Sean Newcomb in the seventh inning, and Los Angeles beat the Atlanta Braves 8-3 Friday night in a matchup of NL division leaders.
It was nothing new for the powerful Dodgers, who set a major league mark with 22 homers in a five-game span when Will Smith launched a two-run shot off Jerry Blevins in the eighth.
“I think we’re a pretty complete team all around,” Muncy said. “Obviously the home runs are what you notice, but look at what happens before the home runs.”
Los Angeles continued to dominate the Braves, too. The Dodgers improved to 18-6 against Atlanta since 2016, using Muncy’s three-run homer and Turner’s solo shot to lead 6-3 after Newcomb replaced starter Mike Soroka.
Los Angeles led 1-0 in the second when Bellinger crushed a homer to right-center , his fourth in five games to take the NL lead. He began the night tied with Angels star Mike Trout for most in the majors.
The NL East-leading Braves pounced on Kenta Maeda in the bottom half, going ahead 3-1 on Matt Joyce’s two-run double and Ronald Acuña Jr.’s hard RBI single to left-center.
Maeda avoided further trouble when Freddie Freeman lined out with the bases loaded. The right-hander struck out seven straight before Josh Donaldson singled with two outs in the fifth.
Adam Kolarek (5-3), who replaced Maeda and pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings, got the win. Julio Urías worked three scoreless innings for his fourth save.
The two-time defending NL champion Dodgers, who eliminated the Braves from the postseason last year and swept them at home in May, got a run back in the third off Soroka on Joc Pederson’s RBI single.
Soroka has gone six straight starts without a win, but was in line for his 11th when Newcomb (5-3) replaced him with two outs in the seventh. Soroka allowed three runs and seven hits. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when Edwin Ríos grounded into a double play.
But the Atlanta bullpen settled into its familiar role of falling apart this month. Newcomb set the tone by walking the first batter he faced.
“When you come in, you can’t walk guys,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I know it happens and they’re not trying to or anything like that, but it’s rough when you keep adding the baserunners. The most important person that guy faces when he comes out of the bullpen is that first one pretty much all the time.”
Muncy’s 30th homer sailed into the seats in right-center as the sellout crowd moaned. Turner followed with a drive to the same part of the ballpark, the 14th time the Dodgers have gone back-to-back this season.
Muncy figured Newcomb would come back with a slider after starting him off with two breaking balls and a fastball.
“It kind of popped out of his hand a little bit,” Muncy said. “He didn’t throw it where he wanted to and I was able to put the barrel to it.”
The NL West leaders are 13-3 since July 30.
Muncy is the first Dodgers player with consecutive seasons of 30 homers since Shawn Green in 2001-02. … Acuña stole his NL-leading 29th base and needs one more to join Trout in 2012 as the only player in baseball history with a 30-30 season before his 22nd birthday. Acuña has 35 homers. … The Dodgers won their 82nd game to clinch a winning record and haven’t had a losing season since 2010.
Dodgers: Roberts said INF Chris Tayler (broken left forearm) and utilityman Kiké Hernández (left hand sprain) could return by the middle of next week’s homestand against Toronto and the New York Yankees. Both are on rehab assignments.
Braves: CF Ender Inciarte left after hurting his right hamstring while rounding third base to score a run. Rafael Ortega took his place. … SS Dansby Swanson has missed 22 games with a bruised right foot and has no timetable yet for a rehab assignment.
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-2) pitched seven scoreless innings last Sunday against Arizona and leads the majors with a 1.45 ERA. In four career starts against Atlanta, he is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 6.24 ERA) will face the Dodgers for the fourth time. He is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA against Los Angeles.
By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA (AP) — Pete Alonso and Amed Rosario helped the New York Mets pile up huge totals of hits and runs.
The Mets needed almost all of them to hold off the homer-happy Atlanta Braves.
Alonso drove in six runs with five hits, including a three-run homer that helped lead to Julio Teheran’s shortest career start, and the Mets held on in the ninth inning to beat the Braves 10-8 on Thursday night.
“It’s incredible. It’s hard to put in words, five knocks as a rookie,” Mets starter Marcus Stroman said of Alonso. “It seems like he’s on everything, barreling everything.”
Alonso’s first-inning homer carried 451 feet before making a splash landing in the pool behind the center-field wall.
Alonso’s 39th homer tied Cody Bellinger for the National League rookie record. Bellinger hit 39 homers for the Dodgers in 2017, the same year the Yankees’ Aaron Judge set the major league rookie mark with 52.
“I don’t stand alone,” Alonso said. “I’m tied. Hopefully I keep on going and keep pushing forward. Hopefully I can stand alone in that category.”
Alonso set career highs for hits and RBIs.
The Mets had a season-high 23 hits. Rosario’s career-high five hits included two doubles, two singles and a triple . It was the first time in franchise history the Mets had more than one player with five hits.
“That’s nuts. That’s crazy,” Alonso said when told about the duo setting Mets history. “I think all of us kind of fed off Amed today.”
Wilson Ramos added four hits.
New York won despite giving up six homers, including three in the ninth. Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson each hit his second homer of the game in the inning and Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a two-run shot — all against Drew Gagnon.
Edwin Díaz walked Brian McCann before striking out Ender Inciarte for his 25th save.
Stroman (7-11) allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander earned his first win in three starts since being traded to New York from Toronto on July 28.
Stroman gave up homers to Matt Joyce in the fourth and Donaldson in the sixth.
New York, trying to stay close in the NL wild-card race, snapped a three-game losing streak that included the first two games of the series.
Teheran (7-8) walked three straight batters to force in a run in the second. He left the game after giving up a run-scoring single to Ramos. Teheran recorded only four outs while giving up eight hits and six runs.
“My command wasn’t there,” Teheran said, adding he’ll try to quickly move past the ugly outing. “I’m just going to put it in a bag and concentrate on the next one.”
Todd Frazier’s third-inning homer off Josh Tomlin increased New York’s lead to 7-0.
Alonso drove in two runs with a fifth-inning single off Tomlin and added a run-scoring single off Anthony Swarzak in the seventh.
Mets: Only one day after he was placed on the 10-day IL with a mild left hamstring strain, 2B Jeff McNeil jogged in the outfield before batting practice. McNeil’s work supports hopes he won’t miss more than 10 days with his second IL stint this season with the same injury.
Braves: SS Dansby Swanson (right foot contusion) hasn’t been cleared to run but took fielding practice from his knees before the game. It’s the same drill regularly used by third base coach Ron Washington with infielders. Swanson, who also played catch in the outfield, has been out since July 24.
Teheran fell to 1-2 in four starts against the Mets this season, including three straight in which he failed to last longer than four innings.
CATCH OF THE DAY
Acuña robbed J.D. Davis of a homer in the sixth by leaping and reaching above the yellow line atop the left-field wall for a catch. Acuña landed in a sitting position on the warning track before pausing and throwing the ball back to the infield as fans cheered.
“Kind of dramatic,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the brief uncertainty about the catch. “Good for him. It’s entertainment.”
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (8-5, 3.89) will make his first start against the Royals since 2016 when the Mets open a three-game series at Kansas City on Friday night. Syndergaard gave up three runs in six innings in a 4-3 win in the 2016 start.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka (10-2, 2.32) will make his first start against Los Angeles when Atlanta opens a three-game series against Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers on Friday night. The matchup of division leaders is a rematch of the 2018 NL Division Series won by the Dodgers.
By PAUL NEWBERRY
ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. heard chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” as he trotted off the field in the sixth inning, tipping his cap to the crowd when he reached the dugout.
Maybe the Atlanta fans are on to something.
It was another dazzling all-around night for the 21-year-old phenom, who scored his 100th run after smashing one off the wall, hit another one into the seats, and showed off his dazzling arm with a bullet of a throw to the plate.
Acuna’s heroics carried Max Fried to his fifth straight win, leading the Braves past the New York Mets 5-3 on a sweltering Tuesday night.
“It’s kind of normal for me now,” Fried said. “He’s a tremendous player and he plays hard every night.”
With Atlanta under a heat alert and the temperature at 94 degrees for the first pitch, the Braves cooled down a New York team that had won 15 of its last 17 games to surge into playoff contention.
Acuña sparked a two-run first against Zack Wheeler by leading off with a long single off the wall in right-center, coming around to score his 100th run of the season on Josh Donaldson’s single. In the fourth, the youngster lined a 409-foot drive into the left-field seats for his 34th homer.
He wasn’t done, either. Acuña ended the sixth by scooping up a single to left by Juan Lagares and rifling a one-hop throw to the plate to get Todd Frazier trying to score from second.
“His arm is a weapon,” manager Brian Snitker said.
The Mets have lost two in a row for the first time since July 18-19 at San Francisco.
Wheeler (9-7) took the blame. The suburban Atlanta native was pounded for 12 hits and all five Atlanta runs before he was lifted after the fifth.
“I just didn’t have it,” Wheeler said. “It stinks. We’re on this run and I really didn’t give us a chance. This one’s on me.”
Fried (14-4) went six strong innings, surrendering his lone run in the second after plunking Wheeler with a two-out, two-strike pitch. Jeff McNeil followed with a run-scoring single.
That was it for the Mets against Fried, who threw exactly 100 pitches, surrendering six hits and three walks.
The Braves’ shaky bullpen, coming off a grim weekend in Miami, protected the lead even though Shane Greene was charged with two more runs while retiring just one hitter in the eighth. The former Detroit closer has a 14.55 ERA since coming to Atlanta in a trade-deadline deal.
Luke Jackson worked a perfect seventh and Mark Melancon, another trade-deadline acquisition, went 1-2-3 in the ninth for his first save with the Braves and second of the season.
“It was cool,” said Melancon, who was coming off an awful outing against the Marlins. “I had goosebumps coming out of the bullpen.”
Atlanta maintained a six-game lead over Washington in the NL East, while the Mets dropped nine games back.
Mets: A tough night got even worse for New York in the ninth inning. Hustling down the line on an infield grounder, All-Star second baseman Jeff McNeil pulled up with a left hamstring injury just as he reached the bag. McNeil slammed down his helmet in obvious frustration and trudged slowly off the field accompanied by a trainer. “I didn’t feel it pop,” McNeil said. “Just a little snag. Nothing crazy.” One of the NL’s top hitters with a .332 average, McNeil will undergo an MRI on Wednesday to determine the seriousness of the injury. “Hopefully it’s not too bad,” he said. “Maybe it’s just a cramp.”
Braves: Rookie slugger Austin Riley will not need surgery on his injured right knee and expects to return to the Braves’ lineup in about two weeks. The outfielder went on the 10-day injured list Aug. 5 after spraining his knee during a workout. … The outlook is not as promising for Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, who continues to rehab a bruised right foot that already has kept him out far longer than expected. He went on the IL retroactive to July 24 and still is not sure when he’ll be able to return.
New York recalled RHP Drew Gagnon from Triple-A Syracuse for this third stint with the team this season.
Gagnon is 3-1 with a 7.65 ERA in the big leagues. The Mets returned RHP Chris Mazza (0-1, 5.19 ERA in four games) to Syracuse.
The Braves also made a roster move before the game. OF Rafael Ortega was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was hitting .285 with 21 homers.
To make room for Ortega, the Braves optioned RHP Patrick Weigel to Gwinnett. He has been with Atlanta for eight days over two brief stints, but has yet to make his major league debut.
Steven Matz (7-7, 4.49) will take the mound for New York in the second game of the series, facing Atlanta’s Dallas Keuchel (3-5, 4.83) in a matchup of left-handers. Matz is coming off a strong outing against the Marlins, surrendering two runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 7-2 victory. Keuchel was roughed up by Miami in his last start, giving up eight runs, 10 hits and three homers in 3 2/3 innings.
By The Associated Press
New York Mets (61-57, third in the NL East) vs. Atlanta Braves (70-50, first in the NL East)
Atlanta; Tuesday, 7 p.m. EDT
PITCHING PROBABLES: Mets: Zack Wheeler (9-6, 4.20 ERA) Braves: Max Fried (13-4, 4.11 ERA)
LINE: Braves favored by 1 1/2 runs; over/under is 9 1/2 runs
BOTTOM LINE: Atlanta and New York meet to begin the three-game series.
The Braves are 30-20 against NL East teams. Atlanta’s team on-base percentage of .333 is sixth in the majors. Freddie Freeman leads the team with an OBP of .394.
The Mets are 29-25 against opponents from the NL East. New York is hitting a collective .254 this season, led by Jeff McNeil with an average of .337.
TOP PERFORMERS: Freeman leads the Braves with 59 extra base hits and is batting .309. Ronald Acuna Jr. is 17-for-45 with a double, eight home runs and 15 RBIs over the last 10 games for Atlanta.
Pete Alonso leads the Mets with 63 extra base hits and has 85 RBIs. Wilson Ramos is 12-for-32 with two doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs over the last 10 games for New York.
LAST 10 GAMES: Braves: 5-5, .256 batting average, 5.64 ERA
Mets: 8-2, .275 batting average, 3.64 ERA, outscored opponents by 23 runs
Braves Injuries: Darren O’Day: (forearm), Grant Dayton: (toe), Austin Riley: (knee), Nick Markakis: (wrist), Dansby Swanson: (foot).
Mets Injuries: Drew Smith: (elbow), Jacob Rhame: (elbow), Dominic Smith: (foot), Brandon Nimmo: (neck), Yoenis Cespedes: (heels), Jed Lowrie: (knee), Robinson Cano: (hamstring).
Jackson overcame three hits in a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the Miami Marlins 5-4 Sunday.
The win came less than 24 hours after the Braves’ bullpen allowed seven runs in the final three innings of a 7-6 loss. After Sean Newcomb gave up the winning run in the 10th, he angrily kicked a metal garbage can, which hit a fire extinguisher, which sent chemical dust and smoke spewing down the dugout tunnel and into the clubhouse.
”We were all kind of laughing afterward and were like, ‘It stinks we lost, but we’ll remember this,”’ Jackson said. ”It was funny. These are the teams that win championships. You lose a game, but you build camaraderie, and I think it’s a win.”
Maybe so, but the bullpen nearly made another mess after inheriting a one-run lead in the series finale. Newcomb gave up consecutive walks with two out in the eighth before Anthony Swarzak retired Jon Berti to end the inning.
Jackson earned his 18th save in 25 chances, but it didn’t come easily. He caught a break when Marlins rookie Isan Diaz took a big turn at first after a leadoff single in the ninth and was thrown out by right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. trying to get back to the bag.
”I was a little too aggressive,” Diaz said. ”I just have to be more aware next time.”
Garrett Cooper and Starlin Castro reached on consecutive two-out singles before Harold Ramirez flied out to end the game.
Acuna hit his 33rd home run and his sixth in as many games, and Ender Inciarte hit a three-run shot. Inciarte credited the fire extinguisher for putting the first-place Braves in a winning mood after their ugly loss.
”It was a good thing that happened,” he said with a laugh. ”We lost the game, a rough game, but everybody was thinking about the fire extinguisher. We were not thinking about what happened in the game.”
Pitcher Mike Foltynewicz was at the team hotel when Saturday’s game ended and heard from teammates about Newcomb’s tirade.
”I couldn’t believe that story,” he said with a grin. ”I literally couldn’t believe it. I came in here and heard the stories, and it put a laugh on my face.”
Foltynewicz (4-5) then allowed four runs in six innings in his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
The Braves split the four-games set and finished the year 8-2 at Marlins Park.
”We had to fight like hell to get a split, and I’ll take that,” manager Brian Snitker said. ”This place was haunted for us these last four days.”
Hector Noesi (0-2) allowed five runs in six innings in his second start of the season and remained winless since 2014.
The Braves scored three times in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead. Noesi walked the first two batters, and Inciarte hit his fifth home run with two out.
Acuna put Atlanta ahead 5-3 in the fifth with a homer, giving him eight in 15 games against Miami this year.
The Braves won despite striking out 13 times and going 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
”The new guys who just came in are getting their feet wet,” Jackson said. ”You can see their stuff. You know they’re unbelievable. It’s a matter of time before it clicks, and when we’re all moving it’s going to be something pretty special.”
A cleanup crew worked until early Sunday morning removing dust from the Braves’ clubhouse. One worker said Newcomb apologized and offered to pay for any damage.
Braves: Following an off day, LHP Max Fried (13-4, 4.11 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday when the Braves open a six-game homestand against the Mets. He has won his past four starts, with Atlanta scoring 34 runs in those games.
Marlins: Following an off day, RHP Jordan Yamamoto (4-3, 4.17 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday when Miami opens a three-game series at home against the Dodgers. Yamamoto is 0-3 with an 8.55 ERA in his past four starts.
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: TWITTER.
Acuna hit a pair of two-run homers, and Teheran extended his scoreless streak against Miami this season to 24 innings before allowing a run in the seventh to help the Atlanta Braves win 8-4 Friday.
Acuna homered for the fourth game in a row in the fifth inning, and homered again in the ninth to increase his season total to 32.
”Every time he gets to the plate we’re expecting something big,” Teheran said, ”and I think he knows that.”
Teheran (7-7) pitched seven innings, struck out seven, hit a sacrifice fly and departed with a 6-1 lead. He said he stuck with the same approach he employed in his three previous outings against Miami this year.
”I executed the same plan, and there was no reason to change it,” he said. ”I’ve got the confidence that I’ve been pitching good against them.”
Starlin Castro homered for the Marlins‘ only run off Teheran this year. The right-hander’s ERA is 0.36 versus Miami and 4.02 against the rest of the majors.
”The key to that game is we still haven’t been able to figure out Teheran,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. ”He has been the guy that all year long has kept us at bay.”
Teheran isn’t the only pitcher dominating the Marlins. The NL East-leading Braves improved to 11-3 this year against last-place Miami, including 7-1 at Marlins Park.
”I left some pitches over the plate that were hit kind of hard,” Smith said.
Castro went 4 for 4 with two RBIs, including a run-scoring single in Miami’s three-run eighth.
Mattingly was ejected in the fifth for arguing about a balk, and Smith was gone before the inning ended, too, after the Braves scored five runs, including Acuna’s first homer. He has seven in 13 games against Miami this year.
The 21-year-old Acuna is batting .298 with an OPS of .912 and 26 stolen bases, which is why he draws comparisons to a young Mike Trout.
”It’s absolutely a privilege for me to be compared to players like that,” the Venezuelan said through a translator. ”It’s a motivator. It’s great company.”
He switched from Spanish to English to add, ”I just want to play.”
Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen pitched three perfect innings with four strikeouts, which lowered his ERA to 6.24. It was 8.21 on July 14.
Braves: Before the game, they recalled RHP Patrick Weigel from Triple-A Gwinnett. He has never pitched in the majors.
Marlins RHP Drew Steckenrider (elbow), who hasn’t pitched since May 6, will undergo arthroscopic surgery and miss the rest of the season. He’s expected to be fully healthy for spring training next year.
Marlins: A crowd of nearly 30,000 is expected for University of Miami night Saturday, with RHP Sandy Alcantara (4-10, 4.50) scheduled to start. In his past six starts, Alcantara is 0-4 with a 7.29 ERA.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka (10-2, 2.45) is scheduled to start. He has won both starts against Miami this year while allowing one earned run in 15 innings.
Follow Steven Wine on TWITTER.
MIAMI (AP) — Brian Anderson’s personal milestone was part of the Miami Marlins’ happy homecoming after a rough road trip.
Anderson homered twice to reach 20 for the season to lead the Marlins to a 9-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.
“It’s good to see when you get those personal accomplishments but at the end of the day it’s nice see us playing better ball,” Anderson said. “I’m just trying to get better pitches to hit. I still have a lot of room to develop.”
Elieser Hernandez pitched six shutout innings as the Marlins returned from a six-game road losing streak and beat the NL East-leading Braves at home for the first time this season after six previous losses. Hernandez (2-4) allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked two. The right-hander retired 11 consecutive batters before Ronald Acuña’s leadoff single in the sixth.
“You don’t want what happened on the road to continue,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “Guys walked out of here with a good feeling.”
Hernandez also got his first career hit with a single in the fifth.
“I always have worked for that and I knew that day was going to come,” Hernandez said through a translator.
Starlin Castro had two hits and drove in three runs, and Jon Berti went 3 for 5 with two RBIs for Miami.
The Marlins chased Atlanta starter Dallas Keuchel with a five-run fourth capped by Anderson’s second home run for an 8-0 lead. Anderson’s drive landed in the walkway above the left-center wall for his first career multi-homer game.
Anderson is hitting .400 with four home runs and six RBIs in his last seven games.
Miami also got run-scoring singles from Berti and Jorge Alfaro, and Castro’s RBI double in the inning.
Keuchel (3-5) allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since joining the Braves on June 10.
“Today it just seemed like they took some advantage of some hitters’ counts whether it was early or I was behind with some rolling cutters,” Keuchel said. “There wasn’t really many things to enjoy about tonight.”
Berti’s RBI single off Atlanta reliever Jeremy Walker in the fifth put Miami ahead 9-0.
Castro hit a two-run homer and Anderson followed with a solo blast to give the Marlins a 3-0 lead in the first. Castro’s shot was his 10th, giving him double-figure home runs in nine consecutive seasons.
Acuña hit his 30th homer, a solo blast off Miami reliever Tayron Guerrero in the eighth.
“I’m trying not to give away at-bats and I’m trying not to give away pitches,” Acuña said through a translator. “It doesn’t matter if it is a 15-pitch at-bat, I’m going to be aggressive on every single pitch. That’s just the mentality I take going into every at-bat.”
Alfaro kept the Braves from an early lead when he tagged Ozzie Albies out at home in the first. A pitch from Hernandez got past Alfaro and bounced off the backstop. Alfaro retrieved the ball, ran toward the plate and beat Albies, who tried to score from third after his one-out triple.
“He flipped the game right there, instead of us getting behind quick and didn’t have to battle back,” Mattingly said.
Atlanta recalled Walker from Triple-A Gwinnett and placed outfielder Austin Riley on the injured list. Walker relieved Keuchel and pitched 3 1/3 innings.
Miami re-instated reliever Austin Brace from the injured list and optioned reliever Tyler Kinley to Triple-A New Orleans.
Braves: Riley (right knee) will be examined by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Monday to determine if he will require surgery. Results of an MRI confirmed Riley sustained a partial tear of a ligament in a weight room workout earlier in the week.
Marlins: IF Miguel Rojas (strained right hamstring) underwent an MRI Thursday. Barring any setback, manager Don Mattingly expects Rojas to return before the end of the season.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (6-7, 3.46) will make his fourth start against Miami this season on Friday. Teheran has pitched 18 scoreless innings and allowed nine hits in his three outings against the Marlins in 2019.
Marlins: LHP Caleb Smith (7-5, 3.35) is the only Marlins starting pitcher with a road win over the Braves in 2019. Smith got the decision as he allowed three earned runs through six innings in a 5-4 victory at Atlanta July 6.
By DAVE CAMPBELL
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have put on quite the power display this season at Target Field.
The Atlanta Braves produced an even bigger show of strength to win this interleague series between first-place teams.
Ozzie Albies homered twice in his second straight four-hit game, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman both went deep, and the Braves again bashed their way past the Twins 11-7 on Wednesday.
“They’re relentless. That’s a really good ballclub,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said, reflecting on the Twins and their majors-most 224 home runs that is well on pace to break the all-time season record. “You never feel good against this club until the game’s over.”
Max Fried (13-4) used a season-high 10 strikeouts to win his fourth consecutive start, pitching into the sixth inning before finding trouble. The terrific trio at the top of the lineup provided more than sufficient support, with Acuña, Albies and Freeman combining for eight hits and five RBIs in 15 at-bats. They were 23 for 45 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs in this three-game series.
Fried struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced. He’s 6-0 in his last nine starts on the road, becoming the first Braves left-hander to reach the 13-win mark since Mike Minor in 2013.
“When you already have a couple runs across, it makes it easier to relax and try to make a few pitches,” catcher Tyler Flowers said.
Albies and Freeman each connected on the first pitch they faced from Martín Pérez in the first inning, just like Acuña and Freeman did in the first and third innings on Tuesday night against Twins All-Star Jose Berrios. Charlie Culberson went 4 for 5 with two RBIs, Johan Camargo drove in three runs, and the Braves reached double-digit runs and 16 hits for the second straight day. This was the fifth time in three weeks the Twins allowed 10-plus runs.
The total would’ve been higher had it not been for the triple play turned in the third inning by third baseman Miguel Sanó, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and first baseman C.J. Cron on a sharp grounder hit by Flowers. That was the second triple play the Twins handed Pérez this summer, this one coming with the bases loaded and three runs already in for the Braves to keep them from building on their 6-0 lead.
“It did buy us a little bit more time and some more pitches and some more innings,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Sanó hit a three-run homer in a four-run ninth for the Twins, who now have five 20-home run hitters to take into their critical four-game series against Cleveland this weekend. The Indians won the first game of their doubleheader on Wednesday to trim the lead in the AL Central race to 2½ games, entering the evening.
“They’re a really good team. I think we’re a better team,” center fielder Jake Cave said. “So we get to play them a lot, but this one in particular is big.”
OZZIE, OZZIE, OZZIE
Albies and Freeman gave the Braves their 12th set of back-to-back homers this season, a franchise record and the most in the majors in 2019. The top three spots in the lineup have produced 81 home runs this season, the most in the NL. Albies had his third multi-homer game of the year, but entering the game he had only one home run in his previous 114 at-bats.
“I’m just so proud of what he’s done this year and where he’s come, how much he’s grown and matured,” Snitker said.
Pérez (8-5) worked six innings to save the bullpen, but this latest dud means he might be headed there himself when Michael Pineda is ready to return from the injured list. Rookie Devin Smeltzer, who is scheduled to start on Friday night in Pineda’s place, pitched six shutout innings in his last turn. Pérez fell to 0-2 with a 6.67 ERA and 11 home runs allowed in his last five starts. He only surrendered seven homers in his first 18 appearances of the season.
The ugly third inning that was salvaged by the triple play featured two walks, a passed ball on catcher Mitch Garver and a dropped throw for an error on Cron. The weekly severe weather siren test fittingly occurred during that inning, perhaps a symbolic warning to the Twins to pick up their play before the Indians arrive.
“Bad day,” Pérez said. “I’ve just got to stay focused and stay strong.”
Braves: Acuña hit himself on the left shin with a foul ball in the sixth inning. After an extended evaluation, he stayed in the game and struck out. … After the game, the Braves placed rookie LF Austin Riley on the injured list with a knee ligament injury suffered during a weight room workout on Tuesday.
Twins: RHP Kohl Stewart, who relieved Pérez, rejoined the team before the game from Triple-A Rochester. Stewart was the third pitcher in the last week to ride the fresh arm express, with RHP Cody Stashak taking the return trip after a 44-pitch outing the previous night, and Stewart was promptly sent back after the game.
Braves: LHP Dallas Kuechel (3-4, 3.86 ERA) will pitch on Thursday to begin a four-game series at Miami. RHP Elieser Hernández (1-4, 5.66) will start for the Marlins.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (11-4, 4.02) will take the mound on Thursday to start the first of three remaining series against the Indians, who will turn to RHP Mike Clevinger (6-2, 3.07) for the opener.
By TYLER MASON
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Atlanta Braves set the tone for what turned out to be a big offensive night from the very first pitch.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman hit first-pitch homers off Minnesota ace Jose Berríos and the Braves routed the Twins 12-7 Tuesday night.
The first three batters in Atlanta’s lineup — Acuña, Ozzie Albies and Freeman — combined to go 10 for 16 with nine runs and eight RBIs. Acuña scored four runs and Freeman drove in four.
Acuña sent the first pitch by Berríos into deep center field for his sixth leadoff homer of the season and the 14th of his career.
“To be able to see the first pitch of the game and to be able to hit a home run, it’s obviously something extremely emotional,” Acuña said through an interpreter. “It’s great.”
Freeman made it 4-0 when he hit Berríos’ first offering for a three-run shot in the fourth inning. The blast helped Freeman keep pace with Acuña for the team lead in homers with 28.
“We’re making the good pitchers work really hard lately,” Freeman said.
It was one of the worst starts of Berríos’ career. He allowed a career-high nine runs in the loss and slipped to 10-6. His bad night got worse in the sixth inning when he balked in a run. Albies hit an RBI triple later in the inning that chased Berrios.
“Jose’s been pitching great for us,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “We ran into a good team swinging the bats well, and he might not have been completely on what he was wanting to do tonight.”
Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz (3-5) returned to the majors after spending the last month with Triple-A Gwinnett. An All-Star last year, Foltynewicz posted a 6.37 ERA in 11 starts before getting demoted to the minors.
Foltynewicz was 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA during his six starts in the minor leagues prior to Tuesday’s outing. He worked on getting his slider back to being an effective pitch.
It certainly was against the Twins.
“The slider was really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He used his whole assortment. I thought it was very encouraging.”
Foltynewicz kept Minnesota’s offense quiet while his own offense continued to put runs on the board. He allowed just two hits through five innings but was tagged for three runs, including two homers, in the sixth.
By that point, the Braves had built the right-hander an 11-0 lead to allow Foltynewicz to earn the win.
“All my pitches were working for a solid five innings,” Foltynewicz said. “It seemed like we kept them off balance the whole game.”
Minnesota’s Nelson Cruz hit his 31st and 32nd home runs of the season, homering in the sixth and seventh innings. He has six multi-homer games this year, tying Harmon Killebrew in Twins’ history for the most in a season.
“The ball’s traveling a little bit more than normal, and you wait for mistakes,” Cruz said.
The Twins swatted four total homers Tuesday and have 223 home runs this season, the second-highest total in team history. Minnesota needs two more to tie the team record of 225, set in 1963.
Braves: CF Ender Inciarte was back in the lineup Tuesday after leaving Monday’s game with left quadriceps tightness. … The Braves still don’t have a return date for SS Dansby Swanson (left foot contusion), manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday. “As soon as he can get back out there and run the bases and things like that, then we’ll have an idea of when we’re looking at him going to play in a game.”
Twins: Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said OF Lamonte Wade and INF Willians Astudillo could both soon begin rehab assignments in Fort Myers, Florida. Wade dislocated his thumb in early July and hasn’t played since July 6. Astudillo hasn’t played since June 26, due to a strained oblique.
Braves: LHP Max Fried has won three straight starts and looks to pick up his 13th win of the season. He won his only other interleague start this year, in April against Cleveland.
Twins: LHP Martin Perez will look to get back on track after allowing five runs in five innings in his last start against Kansas City. Perez has earned just one win in his last 11 outings.
By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA (AP) — Shane Greene was acquired to provide long-awaited stability to the back end of the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen.
Instead, the new closer has only provided more late-innings struggles.
Tucker Barnhart hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the 10th inning off Greene and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Braves 6-4 on Sunday after wasting a two-run lead in the ninth.
A day after blowing a save chance in his Braves debut, Greene (0-1) gave up three runs and four hits in one inning. Greene was acquired from Detroit on Wednesday by the Braves, who have a comfortable NL East lead.
Greene was the biggest of three trade-deadline additions to the bullpen. He was immediately inserted into the closer’s role, replacing Luke Jackson, who had seven blown saves in 24 chances.
“It’s unfortunate that I showed up with everybody excited for me to be here, to get the job done,” Greene said. “I haven’t got that job done two days in a row.”
Greene said he pitched through some bad luck in Saturday night’s debut. He made no excuse for allowing the homer to Barnhart.
“Today I threw a horrible pitch and he hit it over the fence and I paid for it,” Greene said.
Josh VanMeter singled leading off but Greene got Nick Senzel to ground into a double play. Aristides Aquino and José Iglesias singled ahead of Barnhart’s sixth homer, his first since May 25. Barnhart pulled the pitch over the right-field wall.
“I’m trying to do anything I can to get the ball to the outfield and make them make a play at the plate,” Barnhart said. “I got a pitch in the location I was looking for and was lucky enough to put a good swing on it and help the team win.”
Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth off Amir Garrett, thumping his chest and yelling at the Braves’ dugout as he flung his bat while leaving the batter’s box after his 27th home run this season. Acuña hit a game-ending, 10th-inning single that lifted Atlanta to a 5-4 win on Saturday night.
Robert Stephenson (3-2) got the final two outs in the ninth. David Hernandez gave up a two-out homer to Tyler Flowers in the 10th before retiring Freddie Freeman on a groundout for his second save.
Sonny Gray allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings and struck out seven. He escaped a based-loaded jam in in the sixth when Flowers grounded out.
Atlanta wore throwback uniforms from 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, and was shut out until Josh Donaldson homered off Lucas Sims in the eighth.
Braves starter Julio Teheran walked a season-high six, including one intentionally, in five innings.
Braves: RHP Jacob Webb (right elbow impingement) was activated from the 10-day injured list and optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. … A rare break from starting for Freeman provided rookie Austin Riley with his first start at first base. Riley played in four games at first base at Triple-A Gwinnett this season before his promotion on May 15. He had no previous professional experience at first base.
Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz will make at least one more start for Triple-A Gwinnett before the team decides if he will return to the majors. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA in six starts since getting demoted. Foltynewicz, who began the season on the injured list with a bone spur, went 2-5 with a 6.37 ERA in 11 starts for Atlanta.
Reds manager David Bell served the third game of a six-game suspension. He said before the game he has had a nice tour of SunTrust Park, watching games from various locations in the stands. “Really nice ballpark,” he said. While suspended, he must avoid the dugout, clubhouse and press box during games.
Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (10-4, 2.63) will make his first career start against the Angels when Cincinnati opens a seven-day, six-game homestand Monday.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka (10-2, 2.37 ERA) will make his first career start against Minnesota when the Braves open a three-game interleague series on Monday night.