(Photo credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Spencer Strider struck out 11 batters and Ronald Acuna Jr. hit two home runs to help the Atlanta Braves end their four-game losing streak with a 9-3 win over the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.
Atlanta (97-54) avoided what would have been its first five-game losing streak since September 2017. Philadelphia (82-69) dropped to 4-8 against the Braves this season.
Strider (18-5) pitched seven innings and allowed three runs -- all coming on Bryce Harper's 19th home run in the sixth -- on four hits and no walks. He improved his career record against Philadelphia to 8-0 with a 1.90 ERA.
Strider passed Hall of Famer Phil Niekro for the second-most strikeouts in a season by a Braves pitcher in the modern era (since 1900). Strider has fanned 270 batters in 176 innings. Niekro had 262 strikeouts in 330 1/3 innings in 1977. John Smoltz owns the team's single-season record with 276 in 253 2/3 innings in 1996.
Acuna, on "Ronald Acuna Bat Flip Bobblehead Night," went 3-for-5 with his 38th and 39th homers, his fourth multi-homer game of the season.
Acuna's first homer came on the first pitch of the first inning from Cristopher Sanchez. It was Acuna the 33rd leadoff home run of his career, his seventh of the season. It was the 13th time he socked a leadoff homer on the first pitch, the third time this year.
Acuna added another solo homer to open the sixth inning, leaving him one home run shy of becoming the fifth player with 40 homers and 40 steals in the same season. It also accounted for his 100th RBI. Acuna also has 66 stolen bases. He is on the verge of becoming the first player to collect 40-plus homers and 50-plus steals in a season.
Sanchez (2-5) pitched four innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk. He struck out two.
The Braves got a two-run single in the fourth inning from Kevin Pillar. They broke the game open in the fifth with a four-run outburst produced by a bases-loaded walk to Matt Olson, a two-run double from Marcell Ozuna and a sacrifice fly from Orlando Arcia. Ozuna went 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
--Field Level Media