EditorsNote: Several changes, including 8th inning, to indicate Culberson was not in pinch hitting appearance
Two of Atlanta’s first-round picks from 2015 proved to be the difference on Wednesday night.
Austin Riley hit a long solo home run in his second major league at-bat and Mike Soroka fired seven shutout innings as the rookies led the Atlanta Braves to a 4-0 win over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.
Riley, a slugger ranked as the team’s top position-player prospect, hit a 438-foot homer against St. Louis starter Michael Wacha in his second at-bat. Riley was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday morning when outfielder Ender Inciarte was placed on the injured list with a lumbar strain.
Soroka (4-1) allowed three hits and three walks with three strikeouts. He extended his streak of homer-free innings to 56 1/3 and lowered his ERA to 0.98. Soroka’s biggest moment may have come in the third inning when he was able to get Paul Goldschmidt to ground into a bases-loaded inning-ending double play.
Soroka has allowed no more than one earned run in each of his six starts this season and has allowed one or fewer in nine of his 11 career starts, something no other pitcher has accomplished since earned runs became an official statistic in 1913.
The Atlanta bullpen gave the Cardinals some hope in the eighth inning. Dan Winkler walked the first two batters, but Luke Jackson entered to get a double play and fanned Marcell Ozuna to end the threat. Jackson pitched a scoreless ninth and earned his fifth save.
Wacha (3-1) pitched five solid innings for the Cards. He allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits and four walks. He struck out four. He was responsible for Atlanta’s first run when he threw wildly to third base after having Ronald Acuna Jr. picked off between second and third base in the third inning.
Atlanta added some insurance in the eighth inning. Charlie Culberson, who entered the game in the top of the eight inning in left field for Riley, hit a two-run homer off former Brave John Gant.
Atlanta made another roster move, recalling right-handed pitcher Touki Toussaint from Triple-A Gwinnett and designating left-hander Jesse Biddle for assignment.
—Field Level Media