September 14, 2019 / 11:51 PM / a month ago

Braves blow out Nats, clinch playoff spot

EditorsNote: New head, lead, supplemental grafs with Braves clinching postseason

Sep 14, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Austin Voth (50) throws to the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ronald Acuna Jr.’s two-run double highlighted a four-run seventh-inning rally Saturday that sparked visiting Atlanta to a 10-1 win over the Washington Nationals — and propelled the Braves into the playoffs.

While the win reduced Atlanta’s magic number for clinching the National League East to four, it also ensured the Braves will at worst get one the NL’s two wild-card spots. The Braves (93-57) increased their division lead to 10 1/2 games over the Nationals (81-66). The Braves have won 13 of their last 16 and are 11-7 against the Nationals.

After reliever Fernando Rodney entered the game and struck out Adam Duvall, Acuna hit a sharp double to left on the first pitch he saw that easily scored pinch runner Billy Hamilton and Dansby Swanson. It was the only hit for Acuna, who has 97 RBIs.

Acuna then scored when Ozzie Albies — who was 3-for-4 — clubbed his 42nd double. Three batters later, Nick Markakis singled in Albies.

Mike Foltynewicz (6-6) continued to pitch well since his return from the minor leagues. The right-hander worked six innings and allowed one run on four hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Foltynewicz has allowed only two runs in his last 18 innings. The Braves have won his last 11 starts.

Washington starter Austin Voth pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run on four hits, two walks and six strikeouts. Three Washington relievers combined to allow nine runs over the final 3 1/3 innings.

The Nationals scored a run in the first when Anthony Rendon delivered his 43rd double to right field, easily allowing Trea Turner to score.

The Braves tied the game with a run in the sixth. Albies singled and scored on a two-out single by Markakis, who went 4-for-5 and has six hits in two games since missing 44 games with a fractured left wrist.

The seventh-inning rally began when Wander Suero (5-8) walked Brian McCann and Swanson to start the inning. The Nationals called in Rodney from the bullpen, and his inside pitch hit Charlie Culberson below the right cheek. But home plate umpire Tim Timmons ruled Culberson had offered at the pitch while attempting to bunt, which resulted in a strike rather than a hit batter. The decision incensed Atlanta manager Brian Snitker, who was ejected for arguing.

Duvall replaced Culberson and finished the at-bat, striking out before Acuna’s big hit.

Culberson was carted off the field and taken to the hospital, but Snitker said he was alert and responsive.

—Field Level Media

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