2. The Orioles continued a streak in the opposite direction Saturday, losing their 17th consecutive game, although they made this one a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle.
Ultimately, the Braves’ win, combined with losses by the Phillies and Mets, expanded Atlanta’s lead in the National League East. The first-place Braves are now five games ahead of the second-place Phillies and seven ahead of the third-place Mets.
Braves 5, Orioles 4 (box score)
3. The game featured six solo home runs, two by the Braves and four by the Orioles. The Braves won for the 17th consecutive time when hitting two or more homers in a game.
Joc Pederson and Austin Riley homered for the Braves off Orioles starter Matt Harvey, with Pederson’s blast giving the Braves a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning and Riley’s 27th of the year breaking a 3-3 tie in the fifth.
For the Orioles, Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Ramon Urias hit bases-empty homers off Braves starter Smyly. Santander hit another solo shot off closer Will Smith to lead off the bottom of the ninth, trimming a 5-3 Atlanta lead to the final 5-4 score.
4. Smyly allowed more than one home run in a start for the first time in a 14-start stretch dating to June 2. But he allowed only two other hits and no walks in five innings of work, handing a 4-3 lead over to a deep and rested bullpen.
“I was happy to give us a chance,” Smyly said.
Richard Rodriguez pitched a scoreless sixth inning. Tyler Matzek worked a 1-2-3 seventh and struck out left-handed hitter Cedric Mullins, who is second in the American League in hits, to open the eighth, extending Matzek’s scoreless streak to 16 innings. Luke Jackson completed a scoreless eighth despite surrendering two hits. Then Smith recorded the final three outs after allowing Santander’s leadoff homer in the ninth.
5. An insurance run in the top of the ninth ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. A one-out single by Stephen Vogt started the rally. Then an extraordinary 11-pitch at-bat by Ozzie Albies against Orioles reliever Cole Sulser resulted in a double that put runners on second and third bases. A sacrifice fly by Jorge Soler scored Vogt with what turned out, after Santander’s homer in the bottom of the inning, to be the winning run.
“Dansby (Swanson) actually called it,” Riley said of Albies’ at-bat. “He said, ‘I’m thinking double down the line.’
“Really good team win,” Riley said. “A lot of good at-bats. Guys grinding in the box and on the mound.”
He said it
“I always just get the feeling with these guys that they never underestimate anybody. They prepare, and they play the game, regardless of where we’re at. They’re so locked in on today’s game, I feel. It’s a great trait to have. This team has had some really good traits for a long time.” -- Braves manager Brian Snitker on his team
By the numbers
20-21: The Braves’ record this season in one-run games, including wins in their past four such games.
Right-hander Touki Toussaint (2-2, 4.01 ERA) will start for the Braves in Sunday afternoon’s series finale. Left-hander John Means (5-5, 3.44), who pitched a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners in May, will start for the Orioles.