The Braves got yet another impressive pitching performance from Mike Foltynewicz as he stifled the Cardinals offense for six strong innings, giving him back-to-back solid outings after a rough start to his season. The Atlanta offense was powered by Dansby Swanson, who homered twice and had three RBI, and Freddie Freeman, who added a solo homer. The Braves went to win the opening game of the three-game set with a 5-2 final.
The story of the game early was the pitching for both sides, as Foltynewicz and Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas held each opposing offense quiet in the early-going. The Braves put two runners on in the third inning, and pushed across the first run of the game on a double play ball by Ronald Acuña, Jr., which scored Brian McCann from third base to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead.
The Braves lead evaporated quickly, as the Cardinals took advantage of an Austin Riley error in the bottom of the third, as Harrison Bader followed with an RBI triple off Foltynewicz to even the score at one. The run was unearned, but still the game was tied.
In the sixth inning, shortstop Dansby Swanson led off the inning with a first-pitch homer to left field that gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. The very next batter, Freddie Freeman, followed with a solo shot of his own to give Atlanta a 3-1 advantage. This marked the second time on the current road trip that Swanson and Freeman have hit back-to-back home runs.
Foltynewicz worked through an effortless sixth inning, but returned for the seventh and was quickly greeted with trouble. Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina led off the inning with consecutive singles, which marked the end of the night for Foltynewicz, who completed six innings with only one unearned run allowed and seven strikeouts. Jerry Blevins entered to face Kolten Wong, who promptly laid down a bunt that was gathered in and fired to second base by Josh Donaldson, cutting down Molina for the first out. Dan Winkler entered with runners on the corners and retired his only two batters faced, with a strikeout and fly out to escape the jam.
The Braves extended their lead in the eighth inning as Swanson hit another home run, this time of the two-run variety, to push the Atlanta lead to 5-1. Swanson now has 10 homers on the season to go along with 35 RBI. Anthony Swarzak pitched the bottom half of the eighth, allowing only an infield single as he worked a scoreless inning.
Sean Newcomb got the call in the ninth inning, and got off to an inauspicious start as he allowed a long solo homer to Carpenter to lead off the frame. That would be the only damage permitted by Newcomb, who finished off the game with a strikeout of Bader to seal a 5-2 win. Newcomb has now finished two games on the road trip and appears to be earning more trust from manager Brian Snitker is high-leverage situations.
The Braves kicked off their series in St. Louis in victory, and will take on the Cardinals once again on Saturday.