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Ronald Acuña Jr. homers twice, but Braves come up short in 6-5 loss to White Sox

Acuña’s two homers weren’t enough as the defense let Spencer Strider down.

Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ronald Acuña Jr. homered twice, but the Atlanta Braves’ comeback bid fell just short in a 6-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Spencer Strider went into the All-Star Break pitching well and picked right back up where he left off. Hestruck out Andrew Benintendi and Tim Anderson to start the game and then got Luis Robert Jr. to pop out to end the inning. He came back out in the second and struck out the side.

Strider found himself in trouble in the third. Zach Remillard led off the inning with a single to right and then moved all the way to third on another single by Oscar Colas. Strider came back and struck out Seby Zavala for the first out, but Benintendi followed with a soft single to left that scored Remillard to give them a 1-0 lead. Strider fell behind 3-0 to Anderson, but got him to bounce out softly to Orlando Arcia for the second out. Robert then sent a fly ball to left that Eddie Rosario misplayed into a double. Two more runs scored to increase the deficit to 3-0. Strider got Eloy Jimenez to ground out to Ozzie Albies to end the inning.

The Braves went six up and six down against Lance Lynn in the first two innings. Rosario tried to make amends for his misplay in left with a leadoff home run to start the third.

Lynn struck out Arcia for the first out, but then walked Michael Harris. That brought up Acuña Jr. who sent a two-run home run out to right center to tie the game.

Following the homer, Lynn walked Albies. Austin Riley popped out for the second out, but Matt Olson followed with a single to center to put runners at the corners. However, Sean Murphy flew out to right to leave them stranded.

Strider worked around a one-out double by Jake Burger in a scoreless fourth, but again found trouble in the fifth thanks to his defense in the fifth. Zavala led off the inning with a single. Andrew Benintendi then sent a fly ball to left that Rosario misplayed for another double. Zavala scored on the play to put the White Sox back in front, but Benintendi was thrown out at third for the first out. Strider battled back and struck out Anderson and Robert to end the inning.

The Braves answered right back in the home half of the inning. Lynn retired Harris and Acuña to start the inning before Albies tripled high off the wall in right. Riley worked the count full and then sent a single to left to score Albies and tie the game.

Rosario was replaced in left field by Kevin Pillar to start the sixth. The Braves later announced that Rosario left the game due to tightness in his right hamstring. Strider retired Jimenez and Vaughn to start the sixth, but then allowed a solo home run to Burger to put Chicago back in front 5-4.

Strider exited after the sixth. He reached double figures in strikeouts again with 10, but allowed eight hits and five runs over six innings, though most of the runs could’ve been prevented with better left field defense and positioning.

Joe Jimenez took over in the seventh and allowed a leadoff double to Colas to start the inning. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Zavala and then scored on a single by Benintendi to put Chicago up two at 6-4.

The Braves threatened again in the seventh against Gregory Soto. Acuña reached on a one-out single and then stole his 43rd base of the season, tying him for the major league lead.

Acuña moved to third on a ground out by Albies, but Riley grounded back to the mound softly to leave him stranded.

Michael Tonkin worked a scoreless inning in the eighth despite an infield single to start the inning. Olson started the eighth with a double down the line in left off of Kenyan Middleton. Murphy struck out for the first out, but Ozuna walked to put runners at first and second. Brian Snitker then went to his bench, inserting Travis d’Arnaud to pinch-hit for Pillar. d’Arnaud got ahead 3-1 in the count, but then went down swinging on a fastball away for the second out. With two outs, Arcia walked to load the bases for Harris who popped out on the infield to strand the runners.

Tonkin needed just nine pitches to retire the White Sox in the ninth. Kendall Graveman entered for the White Sox in the ninth and was immediately greeted by a solo home run from Acuña to cut the deficit to 6-5.

Albies followed with a single to right and then stole second to get into scoring position. Graveman got Riley to strike out on a slider in the dirt for the first out. Olson then lined a single to left that dropped just in front of Benintendi. Albies had to wait to make sure it wouldn’t be caught and moved to third. However, the game wasn’t meant to continue, as Murphy sent a broken bat grounder to Anderson at short, who stepped on second and then threw to first for a game-ending double play.

The loss drops Atlanta to 61-30 on the season. The two teams will meet again in the rubber match on Sunday with Kolby Allard matching up against Dylan Cease.

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