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Albies, Acuña hit milestones in Braves' victory

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Published in Baseball
Thursday, 21 September 2023 22:31

WASHINGTON -- Everyone knows about Ronald Acuña Jr., his bid to join the 40-40 club and his MVP candidacy. Matt Olson leads the majors in homers. The NL East champion Atlanta Braves know Ozzie Albies is doing his part, too.

Albies went 4-for-6, including his 32nd homer, and topped 100 RBIs in a season for the second time by driving in four runs. Acuña scored his 140th run of 2023 -- the most in the majors in 16 years -- and Olson delivered home run No. 53 to lift Atlanta past the last-place Washington Nationals 10-3 on Thursday night.

"What he brings, it's so vital to the whole lifeline of the whole club. I've said for years: 'You know what? You play the game the way Ozzie does, you're going to play it right,'" Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "The kid does everything right on the field. ... Prepares. The work ethic. He's the model player, really."

The Braves outhit the Nationals 18-8, and every member of Atlanta's daunting starting lineup reached base at least once.

Olson raised his RBI total to 132, equaling Gary Sheffield in 2003 for the most by a Braves player since the club moved to Atlanta. Austin Riley, Michael Harris II and Orlando Arcia each collected three hits.

Max Fried (8-1), who got extra rest between starts while dealing with a blister issue on his index finger, allowed one run -- on Alex Call's homer in the third -- and three hits in six innings while striking out seven. He lowered his ERA to 2.55.

"Outing felt great. Toward the end, the finger filled up with a little bit of fluid. Drained it. Kind of take it day by day," Fried said. "It's something that obviously happens often. It's more about managing it and dealing with it."

The left-hander said he enjoys having Albies on the team for more than what the second baseman does in the field and at the plate.

"He's a little firecracker. He's always got high energy. He's always smiling. He always comes to the ballpark and is in a really great mood," Fried said. "When you see him play with the joy that he plays with every day, it's infectious and contagious."

Acuña, who received some "M-V-P!" chants during at-bats, went 1-for-6 and remained one homer shy of becoming just the fifth player in major league history with at least 40 homers and 40 steals in the same season. He has 39 home runs and 68 steals, including one Thursday.

His triple to left off rookie Jake Irvin (3-7) got the Braves going in the third, and Albies brought him home with a double to right. Acuña is the first player to reach 140 runs since 2007, when Alex Rodriguez got to 143.

Riley, Harris, Marcell Ozuna and Travis d'Arnaud tacked on RBIs as Atlanta batted around. Irvin allowed five runs, seven hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.

"You got to attack. You can't fall behind," Washington manager Dave Martinez said. "Jake just fell behind a lot of good hitters. And when you fall behind, you got to give them good pitches to hit. That's what happened tonight."

Olson's homer came on reliever Cory Abbott's first pitch of the eighth.

Albies hit a two-run shot off Abbott in the ninth.

"I play hard, no matter what," Albies said. "We can be winning [by] a lot, losing [by] a lot. Doesn't matter."

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