ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 16th home run to tie for the big league homer lead and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Monday.
Acuña went deep to match Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. and Texas’ Adolis Garcia for most in the majors.
“I try not to think about it,” Acuña said through a translator. “I’m not focused on it. I just try to go out there and play my game and help the team any way I can.”
The Braves have won six of seven games against the Nationals this season and have outscored them 33-21. Washington has lost five in a row overall.
Closer Will Smith retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his ninth save in nine chances. The right-hander got pinch-hitter Victor Robles to fly out, pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman to strike out and Trea Turner to fly out.
Guillermo Heredia’s run-scoring single off reliever Kyle Finnegan in the sixth pushed the lead to 5-3 . Finnegan struck out Acuña with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Atlanta starter Charlie Morton (4-2) gave up three runs, six hits and three walks with six strikeouts in five innings. Luke Jackson struck out Turner, who whiffed four times, to strand a runner at third in the sixth.
Morton thinks the Braves, who began the day 3 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the NL East, are a winning streak away from getting on a roll.
“I think this stretch coming up is the one that’s going to either give us some momentum to finish the second half pretty well,” he said, “or it’s going to be tough because we’re playing some good teams.”
Joe Ross (2-5) allowed four runs, three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts, retiring the last 11 batters he faced, but he trailed 3-0 in the first on Dansby Swanson’s sacrifice fly and William Contreras’ two-run…
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