The Braves (51-35) won again Saturday at Truist Park, 4-3 over the Washington Nationals, their seventh win in nine games. Just think what a bully this team can be when Ronald Acuña really gets it going too.

Pitcher Kyle Wright gave up eight hits, but his curveball was sharp, his defense got him several double plays and he won his 10th game, which makes him a viable All-Star Game candidate. The bullpen wobbled without closer Kenley Jansen, who is out until next week with an irregular heartbeat, but southpaw A.J. Minter finally nailed it down for a save, his third.

Once again, it was a victory fueled by the top of the lineup to the bottom, with cleanup hitter Austin Riley clubbing a two-run homer, his 22nd, No. 7 hitter Eddie Rosario reaching base three times, and No. 8 hitter Orlando Arcia delivering an RBI single.

Acuña had two singles, a strikeout, and a walk and was caught stealing. He has just one home run in his last 47 at-bats. He is hitting a very decent .280 for the season, but the explosiveness is absent. The first-place Mets arrive Monday and the Braves would certainly be better equipped to push New York off the top shelf if their superstar gets it cranked up.

Still, the record since June 1 is a phenomenal 28-8.

“We’re a good team,” manager Brian Snitker said, emphasizing the word ‘team’. “We’re not driven by individuals. We’re a good team. These guys play hard. They all do well.”

Braves players celebrate their victory over Washington Nationals at Truist Park on Saturday, July 9, 2022. Atlanta Braves won 4-3 over Washington Nationals. (Hyosub Shin /


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Acuña led off the Atlanta first with a single and Riley hit the two-out homer to stake Wright to a 2-0 lead.

And this is where the Braves have capacity the Mets do not. Atlanta led the National League with 131 home runs before Saturday’s game. The Mets are far back with 83 and play a more grinding style of offense.

But the Braves also have the wherewithal to scramble up runs. They scored two with four singles and a walk in the fourth. Just one of their balls was scorched. Washington left-hander Patrick Corbin was tougher on the Braves then he has been in recent Atlanta outings, but the Braves hit the ball just enough to damage him.

“I feel like where we’re at right now is where we’re going to be the rest of the season,” Riley said. “Our lineup is deep. Any time Ronald gets super-hot it’s scary, even now he’s helping in many different ways. It’s going to be a fun stretch.”

Braves' third baseman Austin Riley (27) celebrates with right fielder Ronald Acuna (13) after hitting a 2-run home run in the first inning at Truist Park on Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /


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The success since June 1 has been buoyed by a starting staff that has taken pressure off an injury-racked bullpen. Wright (10-4) has been a big part of it. He threw 26 first-pitch strikes to the 29 batters he faced in seven innings.

“Any time you get strike one is obviously huge and to get that many is why I was able to have a good day today,” Wright said.

He surrendered home runs to Juan Soto and Yadiel Hernandez, but both were solo shots. A runner was wiped out on a double play in front of Soto’s homer.

“I pounded the strike zone, the infield defense was great, couple more double plays today, so I feel like my success is a tribute to the infield defense,” Wright said.

The “team” Snitker emphasizes extends to the bullpen, the famed Night Shift that displayed the full force of run-prevention baseball for the World Series winners in 2021. The club is still missing that high-leverage, power right-hander to take the place of the injured Luke Jackson, but the ‘pen has hung tough.

Managers will tell you they need that closer, that last guy, to anchor any successful crew. But the Braves are making it work with shuffled roles with the closer Jansen out at least a few more days.

“We’ve all been in different roles with injuries and no situation is too big for any of us down there,” Minter said.

The starting pitching. The infield defense. The home-run muscle throughout the lineup. The Braves can lean on a lot strengths the second half the season. Imagine the capacity for success once Acuña roars to life. The electric crowds at Truist Park for the series with the Mets could provide a spark.

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