Morton pitches Braves to win over Red Sox, .500 record

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Five take-aways from the Braves’ 3-1 win over the Red Sox in Boston on Tuesday night:

ExploreBraves' Ozuna injures two fingers on hand

1. The win was the Braves’ fourth in a row and lifted their record to .500 – 24 wins, 24 losses – for the first time since May 11. That puts them in position to attempt to get above .500 for the first time this season when they play the finale of a two-game series at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

After winning three in a row against Pittsburgh, the last-place team in the National League Central, the Braves kept the streak alive against a team that is just 1/2-game out of first place in the American League East.

“That was a really nice evening against a really, really good hitting team,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s good to get out of the weekend and play a club like this and win a tight game like that.”

2. The Red Sox had six baserunners (two hits, two walks, a hit-by-pitch and an error) in the first two innings. But Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton nevertheless limited them to one run (unearned) in the first inning and none in the second, thanks to two inning-ending double plays. A game that could have gotten away from the Braves remained in check.

After that, Morton was dominant against the potent Boston lineup, allowing only one single across the next five innings. He retired the final 13 batters he faced. He worked a season-high seven innings and struck out a season-high nine batters. It was satisfying to finish strong, he said, but also satisfying to escape the first two innings with only the one run scoring.

“To be honest with you, it’s probably more rewarding to look up at the scoreboard and know that I gave up (only) a run in those first two innings, because that could have gone bad real quick,” Morton said. “I caught a couple of breaks there, balls getting hit right at guys, and made a couple of decent pitches when I had to and allowed myself to get into a groove.”

Braves 3, Red Sox 1 (box score)

3. The Braves took a 2-1 lead against Boston starter Garrett Richards in the third inning on an RBI double by Marcell Ozuna and a run-scoring grounder by Ozzie Albies. They increased the lead to 3-1, which stood up as the final score, on a two-out RBI double by Ronald Acuna in the sixth.

Morton turned that lead over to the bullpen after seven innings. Edgar Santana pitched a hitless eighth – “man, that was really encouraging,” Snitker said -- and closer Will Smith worked a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts.

Snitker said Chris Martin was unavailable to pitch, but didn’t elaborate. “He’s OK,” Snitker said. “He just wasn’t available.”

4. Ozuna left the game in the third inning after injuring two fingers on his left hand while diving into third base. “He dislocated the ring finger and the middle finger,” Snitker said. “So we’re going to send him back to Atlanta to have our doctors look at him.”

A decision on whether Ozuna will go on the injured list won’t be made until after he is examined by the team’s hand specialists, Snitker said. “I think we should know, once he gets back there and gets looked at, what the prognosis is.”

5. Pablo Sandoval, who had a disappointing stint as a Red Sox player in 2015-17, returned to Fenway Park as the Braves’ designated hitter. He singled in each of his first three at-bats and finished 3-for-4, drawing boos from the crowd.

“I was looking forward (to it),” Sandoval said of playing in Boston. “I’m happy to be back and win games.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

By the numbers

7-1: Charlie Morton’s career record against the Red Sox, including 4-0 at Fenway Park.

He said it

“This is a special place for me. This is a real special place for baseball. ... Getting a chance to play against a very, very good team in a special place, that was pretty cool.” -- Morton

Next up

Braves left-hander Drew Smyly (2-2, 5.11 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday night’s game. Smyly has three consecutive quality starts, posting a 2.00 ERA across those games after pitching to an 8.05 ERA in his first four starts of the season. Right-hander Nick Pivetta (5-0, 3.59) will start the series finale for the Red Sox.