Acuna gets big hit as Braves score 3 in 8th, beat Cubs 4-1
ATLANTA (AP) — Even the youngest player in the majors knows better than to be surprised by another extra-base hit from Ozzie Albies.
As Ronald Acuna Jr. has quickly learned, that’s what Albies does.
Albies hit a triple and scored the tiebreaking run on Acuna’s single in the eighth inning to send the Atlanta Braves past the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Wednesday night.
It was clutch production from the youngsters at the top of the Braves’ lineup.
“It doesn’t really impress me because I know that’s a talent he has,” said Acuna, 20, of Albies, 21.
Albies leads the National League with 30 extra-base hits, including a double and triple against the Cubs. He began the night also leading the NL in total bases, runs and doubles. He was tied with Bryce Harper for the NL lead with 13 homers.
“I worked for that in the offseason and now that I’m here, it’s to show what I’ve got,” Albies said.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Albies continues to show surprising power. He’s won over Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
“There’s nothing tense about that dude’s game — nothing,” Maddon said before the game. “I don’t care how short or how tall he is, that’s real.”
Carl Edwards Jr. (2-1) allowed five straight baserunners in Atlanta’s three-run eighth, including a bases-loaded walk to Tyler Flowers, without getting an out. Justin Hancock also forced in a run with a walk to Johan Camargo.
The Braves’ big inning was set up by Albies’ triple to the wall in center field past Albert Almora Jr., who robbed Flowers of a probable home run earlier in the game.
“As soon as the ball fell, as soon as he dove for it, I said, I’m going to third,” Albies said. “I’m not staying at second base.”
Albies scored on Acuna’s second hit, a sharp single to left field off Edwards. Acuna moved to third on Freddie Freeman’s single against the shift to the opening on the left side of the infield. Freeman advanced to second on the play. Following an intentional walk to Nick Markakis, Edwards walked Flowers to force in a run.
A.J. Minter (2-0) stranded two runners in the eighth. Arodys Vizcaino, who blew a save opportunity in Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to Chicago, pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save in 10 chances.
After allowing a combined 14 earned runs on 23 hits over eight innings in losses to the Giants and Marlins in his last two starts, Braves right-hander Brandon McCarthy gave up just one run and five hits in six innings.
Chicago’s Tyler Chatwood yielded one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He appeared stunned when he was pulled after a single by Acuna.
“I think it was just the competitive side in me,” Chatwood said. “I wanted to stay in there.”
Maddon brought in left-hander Brian Duensing, who walked Freeman before Markakis hit into his second inning-ending double play of the game.
Cubs: Maddon said RF Jason Heyward (concussion) still has some protocol to clear but “had a good day” working with trainers on the field.
Braves: SS Dansby Swanson (left wrist inflammation) could soon be ready to play. He worked out before the game for the second straight day and his status will be determined after his wrist is re-evaluated.
Chatwood applauded on the mound after Almora reached above the center-field wall to rob Flowers in the second. Almora timed his leap perfectly to make the catch near the 400-foot mark. He then turned his back to the field to watch the replay on the video board before tipping his cap.
BIG DAY FOR BRYANT
The Cubs had one baserunner in each of the first four innings but did not score until pulling even at 1-all in the fifth. Ian Happ led off with a single and scored on Kris Bryant’s single. Bryant had three hits.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (3-1, 2.66 ERA) is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves. He brings a 1.83 ERA in six starts at Atlanta into Thursday night’s game.
Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (1-1, 3.68) will make his fourth start overall and first against the Cubs. He has failed to last as long as five innings in his last two starts.
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