EditorsNote: changes to “fourth” in seventh graf
Atlanta hit a season-high five home runs, including two by Ozzie Albies and a grand slam by Ronald Acuna Jr., and the Braves rolled to a 13-7 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
Acuna delivered his 15th homer to highlight a five-run outburst in the second inning that erased a 1-0 deficit and put the Braves ahead to stay. Albies added a solo homer in the third and another in the seventh, his eighth and ninth. Freddie Freeman hit his 18th homer in the fourth, a two-run shot.
Nick Markakis was 4-for-5 and drove in four runs, giving him 1,002 RBIs for his career. Markakis tacked on his fifth homer, a two-run shot, in the eighth.
It was the fourth straight win for the Braves and the fourth consecutive loss for the Pirates.
The game featured a bench-clearing incident in the first inning that resulted in the ejection of Atlanta third baseman Josh Donaldson and Pittsburgh’s starting pitcher, Joe Musgrove, and manager, Clint Hurdle. Donaldson, the fourth batter of the game, was grazed by a fastball and exchanged words with Musgrove on his way to first base.
Donaldson shoved catcher Elias Diaz, who was trying to shield his pitcher, and players from both teams rushed onto the field. The umpires conferred and ejected Donaldson and Musgrove, then tossed Hurdle for continuing to argue.
The ejection put additional stress on a taxed Pittsburgh bullpen. Alex McRae (0-2) pitched 4 1/3 innings, throwing a career-high 95 pitches, and allowed eight runs, six earned, on six hits and three walks. He gave up three home runs.
McRae, in just his fourth appearance of the season, struck out six. His previous high for pitches thrown in a game this season was 61.
Atlanta starter Kevin Gausman continued to struggle. He lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, two earned, on five hits and one walk. He struck out four.
The Braves were saved by a stellar long-relief effort by Sean Newcomb (1-0), a former starting pitcher. The left-hander pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowed only one hit and struck out six with no walks.
Jacob Webb pitched the final 1 1/3 innings and earned his second save.
Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte was 3-for-5 with a pair of homers, his eighth and ninth, and four RBIs. Bryan Reynolds went 0-for-5 and saw his league-leading 17-game hitting streak end.
—Field Level Media