EditorsNote: revises last paragraph
An error by Pittsburgh second baseman Kevin Newman on a grounder struck by Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman allowed Ronald Acuna Jr. to race home with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, leading to the Braves’ 5-1 win over the visiting Pirates on Sunday.
Acuna singled against Steven Brault (5-3) to start the inning and was bunted to second. Freeman hit a sharp grounder that took a bad hop off Newman and scooted into right field, allowing Acuna to score.
The Braves went on to add three insurance runs. Freeman scored when Ozzie Albies lobbed a soft single into right field with the bases loaded. Nick Markakis scored on a wild pitch by reliever Dovydas Neverauskas, and Johan Camargo scored on Dansby Swanson’s infield single.
The winning pitcher for the second straight night was Jonny Venters (4-1), who retired the only batter he faced to end the eighth inning. Reliever Brad Brach pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.
Atlanta won two of three games in the series and went 5-1 against the Pirates for the season.
The Braves improved to 76-60 and extended their lead in the NL East to four games over Philadelphia and 8 1/2 games over Washington, as the Phillies and Nationals both lost on Sunday.
Both starting pitchers were strong, but neither figured in the decision.
Pittsburgh’s Nick Kingham allowed one run on four hits in five innings and struck out four.
Atlanta’s Julio Teheran pitched seven innings and allowed one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out five.
The Pirates scored a run in the first when Colin Moran singled home Gregory Polanco.
The Braves evened it at 1-1 when Acuna led off the bottom of the first with his 23rd homer.
The home run was Acuna’s seventh leadoff homer of the season, leaving him tied with Marquis Grissom (1997) for the franchise’s single-season record. He is tied with Nomar Garciaparra (1997) and Hanley Ramirez (2006) for the second-most leadoff homers by a rookie. The rookie record of nine was set by Chris Young in 2007.
—Field Level Media