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Braves’ offense explodes for blowout win over Pirates

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Ronald Acuña Jr. homered while Adrian Almonte drove in four runs.

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The offense exploded for the Atlanta Braves who avoided a sweep with a 14-3 blowout win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Braves struck first Wednesday as Ozzie Albies hit a hustle double and then came around to score on a single by Austin Riley. That double was Albies’ 24th of the season.

Unfortunately, they wouldn’t hold the lead for long as Drew Smyly got off to a shaky start. Adam Frazier singled to lead off the inning and then moved over to third on a double by Ke’Bryan Hayes. Dansby Swanson cut down Frazier at the plate on a ground ball by Bryan Reynolds but Jacob Stallings followed with a three-run shot to center to put Pittsburgh in front 3-1. Smyly would allow a single to John Nogowski and a double off the third base bag by William Difo but got pitcher Wil Crowe to line out to Riley at third to escape further damage.

The Braves crept closer in the third when Ronald Acuña Jr. launched his 24th home run of the season. It was a rocket that left the bat at 110.1 mph and traveled 444 feet into the second deck in left.

Smyly wasn’t sharp by any means but weathered the storm and kept the Pirates off the scoreboard for the next four innings. He would be lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth after allowing nine hits and three runs over five innings of work. He struck out four and walked three.

Atlanta went back to work in the sixth and retook the lead. Dansby Swanson and Guillermo Heredia led off the inning against Kyle Crick with back-to-back walks. After both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Lucroy, Abraham Almonte delivered a pinch-hit single back through the box that scored both and put the Braves back in front 4-3.

The Braves weren’t finished either. Acuña followed with a single and that would be the end of the line for Crick who was replaced by Chasen Shreve. Freddie Freeman lined out deep to left for the second out, but Shreve then walked Ehire Adrianza and Riley to load the bases. Adrianza was pinch hitting for Albies who was removed from the game due to a stiff neck.

That set the stage for Orlando Arcia who came through with a single to left that scored Acuña and Adrianza to push the lead to 7-3.

After Jesse Chavez worked a scoreless inning, the Braves put two runners on with walks before the game entered into a rain delay. However, after an hour delay, Kyle Keller got Freddie Freeman to fly out to center to end the threat.

Shane Greene came on for the seventh and served up a lead off single to John Nogowski and then walked William Difo to put runners at first and second with no one out. Greene then battled back and got Kevin Newman and Jared Oliva to pop out. Pirates manager Derek Shelton then called for pinch hitter Ben Gamel and Brian Snitker countered with lefty AJ Minter. Gamel then singled to right to load the bases, but Minter came back and struck out Frazier to leave the bases loaded.

The Braves blew the game wide open in the eighth as Adrianza got things started with a single and then moved up to second on a wild pitch by Duane Underwood. Ender Inciarte then pinch hit for Minter and doubled off the right field wall. Adrianza initially got a late break and it looked like he was going to have to stop at third but the relay throw from the outfield got away from the Pirates infield and he was able to score anyway to increase the lead to 8-3. Swanson then brought home another run with a double to the base of the wall in right center that scored Inciarte to make it 9-3. Lucroy followed with a single to center that scored Swanson to make it 10-3. Atlanta wasn’t finished either as Almonte hit an absolute bullet to right center for a two run home run to extend the lead to 12-3.

Acuña and Freeman followed with singles and then both came around to score on another double by Adrianza as the Braves batted around in the inning. In all, Atlanta scored seven times on eight hits to put this one away.

Jacob Webb closed things out with a pair of scoreless innings.

The Braves would have been well served to spread some of those 14 runs out over the entire series, but alas they will take the win and move on. Acuña and Swanson both had three-hit games while Freeman, Adrianza and Almonte finished with two each. John Nogowski had four hits for the Pirates and tossed a scoreless inning in the ninth.

Atlanta will enjoy an off day on Thursday before wrapping up the first half with a three-game series in Miami against the Marlins.