Ozuna hits go-ahead, 3-run homer, Strider gets 20th win as Braves beat Nationals 5-3
(AP) - Marcell Ozuna hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning, Spencer Strider shook off a shaky first inning to get his 20th win and the major league-leading Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Saturday night.
Strider, the MLB leader in strikeouts and victories, got off to a rough start with a 36-pitch, three-run first inning. He settled down to finish with seven strikeouts on 94 pitches — 57 strikes — in five innings.
Ronald Acuña Jr. doubled to begin the fifth and scored on Ozzie Albies’ single. Matt Olson followed with a single to set the stage for Ozuna’s 38th homer, which set a career high and sailed 432 feet to center field to put the Braves up 5-3.
Heading to their last regular-season game, the Braves need three homers to break the MLB record of 307 set by the 2019 Minnesota Twins.
The Nationals took a 3-0 lead in the first. CJ Abrams singled, stole second base and scored on Keibert Ruiz’s double. Ruiz scored from second on Joey Meneses’ single, and Meneses scored from second on Luis García’s double.
Atlanta got on the board in the third, trimming the lead to 3-1, when Acuña walked, stole second and scored on Austin Riley’s single to left.
Strider (20-5) was charged with three runs, six hits and three walks. Pierce Johnson struck out the side in the sixth, Kirby Yates faced the minimum in the seventh and A.J. Minter pitched around two singles in the eighth. Closer Raisel Iglesias pitched around Abrams’ leadoff double in the ninth to earn his 33rd save in 37 chances.
Nationals starter Joan Adon allowed three runs and six hits with two walks and five strikeouts in four innings. Jordan Weems (5-1) gave up two hits and two runs in one-third of an inning to take the loss.
Braves second baseman Albies made a heads-up play to end the top of the eighth, fielding Jacob Young’s single up the middle and throwing to the plate to catch Dominic Smith in a rundown with catcher Sean Murphy and third baseman Riley.
Strider struck out three in the first to set the franchise record for strikeouts in a single season, surpassing Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who had 276 in his Cy Young Award season of 1996. Strider leads the majors with 281.
ANOTHER RECORD FALLS
Acuña stole second in the third to set the Braves’ modern-era stolen base record with his 73rd, one more than Otis Nixon had in 1991. Acuña, who earlier this week became the first player to hit 40 homers and steal 70 bases in a single season, leads the majors in stolen bases, hits, runs, on-base percentage and total bases. The NL MVP candidate ranks second in batting average and OPS.
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