Both of Duvall’s homers came off Pirates lefty Jose Quintana, whose reemergence will make him a desirable starter around the trade deadline. But Quintana didn’t help his trade value Sunday in his latest poor outing against the Braves, who’ve tagged him for 22 earned runs in 23 ⅔ career innings (four starts).
It didn’t help him that these Braves pound southpaws: They’re 16-6 against left-handers and have won 11 straight starts against them.
William Contreras and Duvall hit back-to-back homers off Quintana in the second inning. It was the third time the Braves hit consecutive homers this season. Two innings later, Contreras doubled and Duvall launched his second home run for a 4-1 lead. Contreras’ two extra-base hits gave him five in nine games this month.
It was Duvall’s 11th career multi-homer game. Entering the day, he was 7-for-24 (.292) with two doubles, two homers, a triple and five RBIs over his last six games. Sunday was further reassurance Duvall is righting his season, another encouraging development for a team that’s had plenty of reason to smile lately.
“That’s always the goal every day, to help your team win,” Duvall said. “The way I can do that is drive in runs and play good defense.”
Manager Brian Snitker added: “(Duvall) probably works too much, too hard at it sometimes. He cares too much sometimes, I think. That’s why I’m always happy when he does well because he works so hard and cares so much.”
Braves starter Kyle Wright, whose breakout campaign has made him a legitimate All-Star candidate, allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. The big blow was Bryan Reynolds’ two-run shot in the fifth that barely stayed fair. Reynolds was Wright’s roommate at Vanderbilt. “I struck him out the first time, though,” Wright said, laughing.
Wright was otherwise efficient during his 79-pitch afternoon, striking out seven and walking two.
Will Smith, A.J. Minter and Kenley Jansen followed Wright. The trio silenced the Pirates, allowing two hits and no runs to preserve the win. First baseman Matt Olson added insurance with a solo shot in the eighth, his eighth home run.
The Braves’ 11-game winning streak is their longest run since reeling off 14 consecutive wins in 2013. It’s tied for the longest run in the majors this season (the Yankees and Astros also had 11-game winning streaks). The Braves have trimmed a 10 ½-game deficit in the National League East to five games, pending the Mets’ result against the Angels on Sunday night.
“The way we won some of these games, coming from behind,” Snitker said. “That was a big hit by (Olson). That add-on run is always big in a game. It’s not just one guy, it’s everybody taking part (to win 11 straight games).”
There are two more rebuilding clubs on deck. The Braves (34-27) begin a three-game series Monday in Washington before finishing the week in Chicago against the Cubs. Their next homestand, beginning June 20, will be must-see. They’ll host the Giants and Dodgers at Truist Park, where they’re 20-14 this season.
“I feel like it’s a lot easier to be loose and have fun, enjoy your time with your teammates,” Wright said of the Braves’ streak. “So there’s a ton of confidence in the clubhouse right now. We’re playing loose, good baseball. It’s been a lot of fun.”