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Braves ride big homers to 9-6 win despite Morton’s early exit

Ronald Acuña Jr. connected for his 40th homer of the season, and the Braves mashed a couple of other longballs to support a de facto bullpen game.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

As has happened again and again during this powerhouse Braves season, Atlanta’s offense struck lightning-quick and never looked back during Friday night’s win over the Washington Nationals. Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the game with his 40th longball of the season, and despite Charlie Morton having to leave the game after just an inning of work, the Braves mostly cruised to a 9-6 victory.

The big news in this game all happened early on. First, there was Acuña’s homer off Patrick Corbin to propel him deeper into the history books:

A couple of batters later, it was Austin Riley’s turn to leave the yard:

Patrick Corbin hadn’t allowed a dinger in two straight starts for the first time all year, but yeah, he didn’t even make it one batter into his bid for three straight before it was ruined. The Braves manufactured a fourth run off of him in the third, as Acuña doubled and came around to score on a couple of deep fly outs.

Charlie Morton had an eventful first inning, and that was pretty much it. Staked to a 3-0 lead, he started the game with walk-strikeout-walk before escaping with no damage. He then left the game with right index finger discomfort, and was replaced by Michael Tonkin.

After the top of the first inning, the wind really picked up at Nationals Park, owing to the onrush of Tropical Storm Ophelia. Fly balls withered on the vine all night. Morton escaped his first inning thanks in part to a barreled out that only traveled 364 feet, and a lot of fly balls all night were rendered harmless. Tonkin got two flyouts in his first inning of work to tiptoe around a single, and then did a nice job cleaning up a mess caused by a bloop single and hard-hit double off the wall by allowing just an RBI groundout. The Braves led 4-1 after three.

However, Tonkin didn’t come out for the fourth. Instead, that inning was handed off to Darius Vines, who was just recalled due to Max Fried hitting the shelf with a blister concern. Vines’ first inning was nightmarish: bloop single, triple past Matt Olson at first, sacrifice fly, fly out, walk, walk, 3-1 count, and then somehow, a strikeout to escape with the bases loaded and a one-run lead.

The Braves got those runs right back the next frame, chasing Corbin. Sean Murphy drew a leadoff walk, and one batter later, Jordan Weems replaced Corbin. Weems started his night by hitting Acuña. Ozzie Albies followed with an RBI double, and Riley hit another sac fly to score Acuña once again. Vines settled in somewhat after that, with a 1-2-3 fifth, and a one-run sixth where a groundout scored a leadoff triple.

The Braves, though, just kept churning through the Nats’ pitching. Andres Machado got the first two outs of the seventh, but then a single by Riley, a walk to Matt Olson, and a three-run homer by Marcell Ozuna gave the Braves a 9-4 lead. Vines and Brad Hand combined for a scoreless bottom of the seventh; Hand let a couple reach in the eighth and was lifted for Pierce Johnson, who allowed a two-run double with two outs but didn’t let things progress further. Raisel Iglesias let the tying run come to the plate with one out after a pair of singles, but then slammed the door with a strikeout and a groundout.

With their 99th win, the Braves will now get an unscheduled rest day as the storm sweeps through the DC area. Saturday’s game has already been rescheduled for a doubleheader on Sunday.

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