Tucker, Freeman hit 3-run HRs as Braves stop Nationals 13-6
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have reason to be encouraged about their offense, even with two starters on the disabled list and top prospect Ronald Acuna’s debut probably at least two weeks away.
Freddie Freeman and Preston Tucker each hit a three-run homer , and Atlanta handed Washington its first loss with a 13-6 victory over Bryce Harper and the Nationals on Tuesday night.
Third baseman Johan Camargo and catcher Tyler Flowers are on the disabled list, but the Braves’ 41 runs through five games is the team’s best offensive start since 2006. The Braves’ 56 hits are tied with the 2008 team for the Atlanta record through five games.
“It’s early but I kind of like how we’re going about it right now,” manager Brian Snitker said.
The 20-year-old Acuna will open the season at Triple-A Gwinnett after hitting .432 in spring training. Tucker, expected to be a short-term starter in left field, is hitting .421.
Freeman and Tucker each delivered a big blow as Atlanta scored four times in each of the first two innings. Tucker’s drive in the first against A.J. Cole reached the restaurant behind the right-field seats, and Freeman cleared the wall in right-center in the second.
Washington’s three-run first inning marked the fifth straight game the Nationals handed a lead to their starting pitcher. But Cole (0-1) allowed 10 runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings, perhaps endangering his hold on the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
“I’m trying to go out there and show them I can compete ... and I’m trying to help our bullpen as well,” Cole said.
Manager Dave Martinez said he told Cole “to keep his head up — and nice home run.”
Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer in the first for Washington, and Cole added his first career homer in the second. Leading off the third, Harper continued his hot streak with his fourth homer in the last three games.
Atlanta ace Julio Teheran was charged with five runs in 2 1/3 innings, ending his streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings against Washington. The right-hander threw 89-mph fastballs on the homers hit by Zimmerman and Cole.
Shane Carle (1-1) allowed only one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Teheran.
Ozzie Albies had three hits and scored three times for Atlanta, which lost 8-1 in the series opener Monday. Freeman added a run-scoring single off Enny Romero in the fifth.
Braves: Camargo (right oblique strain) is expected to play for Advanced Class A Florida on Thursday. He is eligible to come off the 10-day DL as soon as Wednesday, but the Braves would like to see him play a full nine-inning game before he is activated. ... C Kurt Suzuki (bruised right hand) hit and threw before the game but likely won’t play before Friday.
WALK IN THE PARK
Freeman had two walks, giving him 10 through five games. It’s the high five-game total for any major league player since Gary Sheffield had 10 in 1997.
“Believe me, I want to swing, I do,” Freeman said, adding pitchers “have kind of been nibbling but the guys behind me have been driving me in. So I’ve been taking my walks and putting pressure on them on the bases and we keep scoring runs.”
The Braves traded right-hander Akeel Morris to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash. Morris was designated for assignment on Saturday when Atlanta acquired catcher Carlos Perez from the Angels for infielder Ryan Schimpf.
The start of the game was delayed 12 minutes by a partial malfunction on one bank of outfield lights.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (1-0) is 7-5 with a 3.94 ERA in 17 career games, including 15 starts, against Atlanta entering Wednesday’s final game of the series. He was 2-2 with a 4.41 ERA against the Braves in 2017.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-0) was 1-2 with a 6.64 ERA in four starts against the Nationals in 2017. He allowed three runs, two earned, against Philadelphia on Friday night.
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