Braves finish 9-0 trip, return home for bigger challenges

The Braves completed a perfect road trip Sunday, winning for the ninth time in nine games, and now will find out if their success carries over into a far more difficult portion of the schedule.

ExploreSteve Hummer: Idyllic road trip ends, and now it gets real for Braves

A 3-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles wrapped up the Braves’ first undefeated three-city trip in 29 years, a remarkable feat even though all three opponents were far-below-.500 teams.

“I can’t recall ever going on a 9-0 run, period, but being able to do that on the road is huge,” said outfielder Adam Duvall, who had a key two-run double in the fourth inning Sunday.

“That’s something,” manager Brian Snitker said of the undefeated trip. “It’s hard to do that, regardless of who you’re playing. Man, these are major-league teams. ... Just credit to the players for keeping that consistency and approach and everything to make that happen.”

The trip to Washington, Miami and Baltimore transformed the National League East standings. The Braves began the trip in third place in the division, one game behind the Philadelphia Phillies and a half-game behind the New York Mets, and ended it in first place, five games ahead of the Phillies and seven ahead of the Mets.

But to appreciate how dramatically the Braves’ schedule is about to change, consider this: While their past nine games came against three teams that are a combined 87 games under .500, their next eight games will come against three teams that are a combined 87 games over .500.

“We’re just going to show up and keep working and try to continue what we’ve been doing and stick with what’s working,” Duvall said.

Credit: Nick Wass

Credit: Nick Wass

The ultra-challenging stretch begins Monday night with the opener of a two-game series against the New York Yankees at Truist Park. The Yankees (72-52) are on a season-high nine-game winning streak, have the best record in the majors since the All-Star break (26-9) and have won each of their past nine series.

Following the games against the Yankees and two off days, the Braves will face the San Francisco Giants, who have MLB’s best record, in a three-game series at Truist Park starting Friday. Then the Braves will travel to Los Angeles for three games against the Dodgers, who have MLB’s second-best record, starting Aug. 30.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Braves team before this one to go undefeated on a three-stop trip was the 1992 club, which went 10-0 on a July journey to Chicago, Houston and St. Louis.

The Braves have now won 13 consecutive road games overall, dating to July 29, the longest such streak in franchise history.

Braves 3, Orioles 1 (box score)

In Sunday’s game against the Orioles, whose losing streak reached 18 games, the Braves scored all three of their runs in the fourth inning against left-hander John Means. Players acquired at the July 30 trade deadline drove home all of the runs: the first on Jorge Soler’s solo homer to left-center, the other two on Duvall’s two-out double to deep center that scored Freddie Freeman from second base and Dansby Swanson from first.

Soler’s homer was his 18th of the season, his fifth since joining the Braves, and Duvall’s double gave him 86 RBIs for the season, including 18 since the Braves reacquired him.

Braves starting pitcher Touki Toussaint allowed one run on five hits and three walks in 5-1/3 innings, turning a 3-1 lead over to the bullpen. Relievers A.J. Minter, Chris Martin, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith combined for 3-2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, including all three batters Jackson faced in the eighth. Smith allowed a leadoff double in the ninth, then retired the next three batters to end the trip and send the Braves toward bigger battles ahead.

Asked if the next eight games against the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers will provide a measure of this Braves team, Snitker said: “Yeah, a little bit. ... I don’t want to shortchange us, either. We’re pretty good. We’re a good club, too. But there are going to be big games. We’ve been in that arena all year, and we’ve managed to do OK, so I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys.”