Braves 9, Diamondbacks 2
PHOENIX, Sept. 22 — Atlanta Braves right-hander Ian Anderson — with seven extra-base hits from his offense giving him support — hurled seven innings of one-run, two-hit baseball to lead his team to a 9–2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday night.
Braves Take Early Lead over Diamondbacks in Weird Inning
The game got off to an odd start. Right fielder Jorge Soler and first baseman Freddie Freeman opened the top of the first with a walk and a double to center, respectively, off Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly. This put runners on second and third for second baseman Ozzie Albies, whose sacrifice fly to left plated Soler for a 1–0 lead. An infield single by third baseman Austin Riley put runners on the corners for center fielder Adam Duvall. He hit a fly to the warning track in left. Diamondbacks center fielder Jake McCarthy jumped and caught it initially, but when hitting the wall, the ball squirted out of his glove, hit the top of the wall, and rolled into the stands.
Duvall had a home run, but when Riley saw McCarthy apparently catch the ball, he returned to first, not seeing the ball squirt out. Consequently, Duvall passed Riley (after touching first base), so — by rule — Duvall was out. However, since the ball left the yard, Freeman and Riley still scored on the play. Instead of a homer, Duvall had a two-run single, but the Braves still held a 3–0 lead. The Diamondbacks got one run back in the bottom of the first thanks to a one-out walk by second baseman Ketel Marte and a two-out double by right fielder Kole Calhoun.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said he “didn’t get a really good look” at the play from the dugout. However, he spoke with McCarthy about it. Lovullo said that McCarthy told him, “The ball hit the heel of his glove, and it was in his glove for a second. And as soon as he hit the wall, it came loose.” Lovullo added, “I thought (McCarthy) made a great break on the ball. He closed in on it quickly to manage the space in that wall. It was a very athletic play — almost an unbelievable play.”
Blowing It Open
It became a 4–1 game in the top of the third when Riley launched a 449-foot ICBM onto the concourse past the left-center-field bleachers. The score became 6–1 in the fifth when, after a Freeman double to right, Albies blasted a 2–1 fastball into the right-field seats.
Meanwhile, Anderson pitched one zero after another. First baseman Christian Walker led off the bottom of the second with a single. Third baseman Josh VanMeter erased him by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play. No Diamondbacks hitter reached base again against Anderson.
In the bottom of the eighth, Walker welcomed reliever Chris Martin to the game with a leadoff home run to left-center, slashing the lead to 6–2. This ended a streak of 17 consecutive Diamondbacks hitters retired. Consecutive two-out singles by pinch-hitter Henry Ramos and shortstop Josh Rojas put runners on the corners for Marte. Reliever Luke Jackson struck him out to end the threat.
The Braves tacked on three more in the top of the ninth off Tyler Clippard. A one-out single by catcher William Contreras, followed by a pinch-double by Diamondback killer Joc Pederson, put two runners in scoring position for Soler. His sacrifice fly, followed by a loud home run to the pool area by Freeman, finalized the score.
“That’s a really, really good offensive team,” Kelly said of the Braves. “If you get behind them and give them pitches in the zone to hit, they’re not going to miss them.” Lovullo added about Kelly, “He had some good and bad moments. I felt like he had trouble finding a rhythm. Once he did in a couple of those innings, I thought he was landing his pitches and doing a really nice job of attacking the zone. But he was just one or two balls off the plate and not able to execute at the high level that we normally see.”
Anderson (8–5) earned the win, while Kelly (7–11) took the loss. The Braves and Diamondbacks will close their four-game series with a Thursday matinee. Charlie Morton (13–6, 3.49 ERA) will start for the Braves against Diamondbacks lefty Madison Bumgarner (7–10, 4.56 ERA). First pitch will be at 12:40 Arizona Time/3:40 Eastern Time.
The Braves victory brought their record up to 80–70. With the second-place Philadelphia Phillies defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 4–3, the Braves maintained their three-game lead in the NL East. The Diamondbacks (48–104) must win four of their remaining ten games to avoid the worst record in franchise history.
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Ian Anderson, Jorge Soler, Freddie Freeman, Merrill Kelly, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Adam Duvall, Jake McCarthy, Ketel Marte, Kole Calhoun, Torey Lovullo, Christian Walker, Josh VanMeter, Chris Martin, Henry Ramos, Josh Rojas, Luke Jackson, Tyler Clippard, William Contreras, Joc Pederson, Charlie Morton, Madison Bumgarner