EditorsNote: Revised fourth graf to reflect strike-out number
As postseason tune-ups go, this was a rough one for the Atlanta Braves.
Bubba Starling’s two-run double capped a five-run third inning Tuesday night that lifted the host Kansas City Royals to a 9-6 win over Atlanta.
Not only did the Braves lose for the third time in as many meetings with the 100-loss Royals, but they also saw 41-homer man Ronald Acuna Jr. leave due to right hip tightness. Acuna limped toward a Starling fly ball in the bottom of the second and was lifted for precautionary reasons in the next half-inning.
Danny Duffy (7-6) got the win after allowing three runs and five hits over five innings, walking two and striking out five in what was likely his last start of the year.
Julio Teheran (10-11) lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and six runs with one walk and one strikeout. It was the third straight losing start for Teheran, who has allowed 15 runs (14 earned) over 11 1/3 innings in that span and could find himself missing from the Braves’ postseason rotation.
Teheran landed in first-inning trouble, falling behind 1-0 on Hunter Dozier’s sacrifice fly that scored Whit Merrifield.
The Royals pulled away in the third.
An Alex Gordon single brought in Jorge Soler for a 2-0 lead. Ryan O’Hearn chased Dozier home with a sacrifice fly, and Starling followed with a shot off the base of the left-center-field wall that drove in two. Taking third on the throw home, Starling trotted home when catcher Brian McCann’s throw skipped by Josh Donaldson into left field.
Nick Markakis got Atlanta on the board in the fourth with an RBI double that scored Ozzie Albies. The Braves briefly got back into contention in the fifth on Francisco Cervelli’s third homer of the year and a bases-loaded walk to Markakis, making it 6-3.
Kansas City played add-on with two more in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by O’Hearn and Nicky Lopez’s run-scoring single. Lopez tacked on a double in the seventh that chased home Starling to round out the Royals’ scoring.
Atlanta got an unearned run in the eighth, and Albies cracked a two-run homer in the ninth, his 24th of the season.
—Field Level Media