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Acuna and Riley power Braves to 4-0 win and series split with Reds

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Kyle Muller was lights out for the Braves in a game that they REALLY needed to win.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Muller was outstanding on the mound for the Atlanta Braves professional baseball club and Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley homered as the Braves were victorious over the Reds by the score of 4-0. Their win also secured a series split with the Reds as they go into what appears to be an absolutely pivotal set of games next week.

Kyle Muller got the start for the Braves and was absolutely fantastic. He was lights out for his five innings of work and got some rather ugly swings all afternoon. When the dust settled, he gave up no runs with just one hit over five innings with two walks and NINE strikeouts on the day. In short, he was dealing.

The scoring for the Braves got started in the third inning. After Guillermo Heredia was hit by a pitch to start the inning, the next two batters struck out which brought Ronald Acuna Jr. to the plate. A sharply hit double to center brought home Heredia and the Braves had themselves a 1-0 lead. The next pitch of the inning to Freddie Freeman ended up being a single to right which brought home Ronnie and just like that, the Braves had themselves a 2-0 lead.

The Braves would then get a couple baserunners in the fourth with a Dansby Swanson double and a walk to Abraham Almonte, but a couple groundball outs erased the thread. The fifth inning, however, would yield more positive results as Acuna Jr. would absolutely unload on a pitch to dead center for a solo home run, his 21st of the year, to stretch the Braves lead to 3-0. That homer was also the hardest hit ball by a Brave since Statcast started tracking such things at 117.4 mph. Yep, crushed that one.

The fun continued for the Braves in the sixth inning. To lead off the inning was one Austin Riley who connected for an oppo solo shot, his 13th homer of the season. to widen the Braves’ lead to 4-0 and break the Braves’ run of games scoring three runs or less. The Braves would go quietly the rest of the inning.

After Muller was pulled from the game at 93 pitches, Chris Martin got the nod and unlike his previous appearances, he looked really good. His fastball was hitting 97 mph and he made quick work of the talented top of the Reds’ order in the bottom of the sixth including a three pitch strikeout of Nick Castellanos.

Luke Jackson had to work a bit harder in the seventh as after a quick lineout and a walk, he had an 11-pitch battle with Tyler Naquin which ended in a strikeout. AJ Minter would come in and after a four pitch walk to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker to give the Reds two baserunners, he got into a battle with Scott Heineman who has been pretty abysmal at the plate this year (in an admittedly small sample). Eight pitches later, Heineman mercifully grounded out and the threat was over.

The Braves continued to threaten in the top of the 8th against Sean Doolittle. A fortunate fly ball from Ozzie Albies dropped in for a double and after an intentional walk to Dansby Swanson, the Braves had two on and two out for pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza. Sadly, it was not to be as a pop-up in foul territory ended the inning and the Braves had to remain content with a four-run cushion.

For the bottom of the eighth inning, Snitker gave the reins to Shane Greene who...well, has been struggling since his return to the Braves. A lead-off single certainly looked like the start of some innings we had seen from Greene lately, but Greene actually settled down nicely after that and set down India, Votto, and Castellanos in order including getting Castellanos swinging. We love to see it.

After the bottom of the Braves’ order predictably when down without incident, it came down to Will Smith getting three outs in the bottom of the ninth with a four run lead. Instead of giving us our daily bullpen-related heart attack, Smith set the Reds down in order including a pair of strikeouts and the Braves got themselves a series split.