Braves become 1st MLB team to clinch playoff spot as Acuña and Olson lead rally past Pirates

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 10: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates after hitting an RBI single in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Truist Park on September 10, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./

Having become the first team to clinch a playoff berth, the Atlanta Braves looked ahead toward larger aims.

"I wanted to congratulate the guys, but our No. 1 goal coming out of spring training is to win the division," manager Brian Snitker said after the Braves rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Sunday.

Matt Olson went 2 for 3 with three RBIs.

Image 1 of 2

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Matt Olson #28 of the Atlanta Braves breaks his bat during an at bat during the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Truist Park on September 10, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

"It’s exciting to be a part of this team. It is going to be a fun end of the season," rookie starter Allan Winans said.

Atlanta leads the second-place Phillies by 15 games in the NL East heading into a a four-game series starting Monday in Philadelphia. If the Braves win three of the four, they would assure their sixth straight division title.

"It will be a tough four games in three days," Snitker said. "Their lineup is every bit as tough as ours."

By clinching after 142 games, the Braves tied the 1975 Cincinnati Reds for the sixth-fewest games to clinch a postseason berth in a 162-game season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 1998 Yankees set the record by clinching after 135 games.

Atlanta (93-49) reached the postseason for the sixth straight year, the second-longest streak in franchise history. The Braves won 11 straight NL East titles from 1995-2005.

Ronald Acuña Jr. had a key two-out single to spark the seventh-inning rally and had two RBIs.

Brad Hand (4-1) won in relief of Winans, who allowed two runs and six hits while striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings. AJ Minter struck out the side in the eighth and Raisel Iglesias pitched a scoreless ninth for his 29th save in 31 chances.

"He’s been awesome," Snitker said of Winans, who has gone back and forth between Triple-A Gwinnett. "I loved his demeanor. He slows the game down and has a lot of confidence in himself."

Colin Selby (2-1) gave up four runs in just one-third of an inning. Pirates rookie Luis Ortiz allowed one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings against the major leagues’ highest-scoring offense.

"He was very good," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. "He attacked the zone. He went after the best lineup in baseball. Defensively, we played well behind him. We had an inning or two with some hard contact, made some plays. But overall I thought he threw the ball really well."

Bryan Reynolds and Jake Suwinski had RBI doubles in the sixth, and Olson’s run-scoring groundout cut the deficit in the sixth.

With the Braves trailing 2-1 in the seventh and chants of ‘M-V-P’ being heard across Truist Park, Acuña hit a two-run single over Suwinski that short-hopped the center-field wall. Olson followed with a two-run single.

"What Acuña is doing, what Olson is doing," Winans said. "It’s just incredible."

Entering the game, the Braves and Pirates had the two longest streaks of games with a home run. The Braves had homered in 20 straight and the Pirates seven, but neither team managed to go deep.

"That’s a big step for our offense," Snitker said. "We don’t live and die by the home run."

Yankees 4, Brewers 3, 13 innings

NEW YORK (AP) — Milwaukee rookie right fielder Sal Frelick preserved a no-hit bid with a leaping catch at the wall of Anthony Volpe’s drive in the 10th inning to keep the game scoreless, but New York rallied when Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer in the 12th off Andrew Chafin and Kyle Higashioka hit a winning double in the 13th against Hoby Milner (2-1).

After Corbin Burnes pitched eight hitless innings, Devin Williams worked a 1-2-3 ninth and Abner Uribe a hitless 10th. Tyrone Taylor hit a run-scoring single in the 11th as Milwaukee went for the first 11-inning no-hitter in major league history, but Oswaldo Cabrera hit a tying RBI double with one out in the bottom half off Joel Payamps.

Joey Wiemer had an RBI double and Andrew Monasterio a sacrifice fly off Nick Ramirez in the 12th. Anthony Misiewicz (2-0) pitched around a walk in a hitless 13th.

Yankees rookie center fielder Jasson Domínguez was scratched because of a torn ligament in his throwing elbow and needs Tommy John surgery, interrupting an impressive start to his major league career that included four home runs in his first seven games.

Rays 6, Mariners 3

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Zach Eflin (14-8) tied for the AL wins lead as Tampa Bay took three of four. The Rays have a 7 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the top AL wild card, while Seattle trails AL West-leading Houston by 2 1/2 games.

Eflin allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings and four pitchers combined for scoreless, two-hit relief, with Pete Fairbanks working the ninth for his 21st save.

Yandy Díaz had a leadoff single, Brandon Lowe walked, Harold Ramírez hit a two-run double in the first off Bryce Miller (8-5) and Josh Lowe had a run-scoring double.

Astros 12, Padres 2

HOUSTON (AP) — Kyle Tucker hit two RBI triples in an eight-run sixth inning as Houston routed San Diego.

Tucker became the 12th major leaguer with two triples in an inning and first since Colorado’s Cory Sullivan on April 9, 2006, at San Diego.

Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs for Houston, which has won five of six to open a 2 1/2-game AL West lead over Seattle. The defending World Series champion Astros (82-62) are a season-high 20 games over .500.

J.P. France (11-5) allowed one run, four hits and five walks in six innings. Matt Waldron (0-3) yielded four runs in five innings.

Tucker was the first Houston player to triple twice in an inning, hitting his three-baggers off Tim Hill and Rich Hill.

Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 2

CHICAGO (AP) — Christopher Morel, Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson each hit a solo homer in the third inning, and Chicago snapped a three-game skid with a victory over Arizona.

Swanson added two singles and Kyle Hendricks (6-7) tossed 5 2/3 effective innings to help the Cubs strengthen their hold on the second NL wild-card spot. Arizona’s four-game winning streak ended, but the Diamondbacks have a half-game lead over Miami for the third and final wild card.

Swanson finished with two RBIs and Seiya Suzuki doubled in a run for the Cubs. Morel also tripled, and Julian Merryweather pitched the ninth for his first save.

Arizona opener Joe Mantiply (1-2) took the loss.

Red Sox 7, Orioles 3

BOSTON (AP) — Triston Casas hit a three-run homer off Cole Irvin as Boston averted a three-game sweep with a rain-delayed victory that halted Baltimore’s seven-game winning streak.

A day after getting 23 hits in a 13-12 loss, the Red Sox wiped out a 3-0 deficit with two runs in each of the third and fourth innings against Grayson Rodriguez (5-4).

Brayan Bello (12-8) worked five innings, giving up three runs and seven hits.

Rangers 9, Athletics 4

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Semien homered twice among his four hits, Corey Seager went deep for the 30th time this season and Texas won consecutive games for the first time in September.

Andrew Heaney (10-6), the odd man out of the Rangers’ rotation with All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi back from the injured list, struck out six over 3 2/3 scoreless innings after taking over for Jon Gray in the third.

Semien matched his career high with four hits for the second time in four games. He set a franchise record with his eighth leadoff homer this season, part of a three-run first inning off rookie Luis Medina (3-9).

Dodgers 7, Nationals 3

WASHINGTON (AP) — James Outman homered and Los Angeles moved closer to another division title with a victory over Washington.

Jason Heyward drove in two runs for the Dodgers, who lead the NL West by 13 games over Arizona. Los Angeles reduced its magic number to six for wrapping up the division crown.

The last-place Nationals have dropped 10 of 13.

Rain halted play for 58 minutes in the top of the fifth inning, the third consecutive day the teams endured a delay.

Wander Suero (1-0), called up from the minors before the game, allowed a run in 1 1/3 innings for his first big league victory since he pitched for Washington in 2021.

The Dodgers took the lead against starter Trevor Williams (6-10) on Heyward’s two-run single in the first.

Marlins 5, Phillies 4

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryan De La Cruz hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and Miami, held hitless until the seventh, rallied past Philadelphia.

Dane Myers broke up a no-hit bid by Phillies starter Ranger Suárez with a one-out double in the seventh. Yuli Gurriel drove in two runs for the Marlins, who pulled within a half-game of Arizona for the final National League wild card. Miami has won eight of 10 after taking two of three games from Philadelphia.

Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber homered for the defending NL champion Phillies, who are two games in front of the Cubs for the league’s top wild card.

Miami went ahead in the eighth on De La Cruz’s two-run homer off Seranthony Domínguez (4-4).

David Robertson (6-6) struck out Alec Bohm with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the seventh.

Tanner Scott, the seventh Marlins pitcher, got five outs for his seventh save.

Reds 7, Cardinals 1

CINCINNATI (AP) — Hunter Greene allowed one hit in six innings, Joey Votto homered on his 40th birthday and Cincinnati stopped a three-game losing streak by beating St. Louis.

Votto connected after missing 16 games with discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Jonathan India, Will Benson and TJ Friedl also hit solo home runs as the Reds avoided a three-game sweep. India also was playing his first game after missing 39 with left foot plantar fasciitis.

Cincinnati is 1 1/2 games behind Arizona for the final NL wild card.

Greene (4-6), who had been sidelined with COVID-19 that kept him isolated in San Francisco for five days, gave up one unearned run and struck out nine. He walked four in the first four innings before settling down to retire his last seven batters.

Miles Mikolas (7-11) fell to 1-6 over his last nine starts. The Cardinals (63-80) have lost 80 games for the first time since 2007 when they finished 78-84.