Pirates lose again as Braves win 11th straight
ATLANTA — Adam Duvall homered twice off Jose Quintana, William Contreras and Matt Olson also connected, and the Atlanta Braves won their 11th straight game, 5-3 over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
The defending World Series champion Braves began the day having trimmed five games off the New York Mets’ division lead since the winning streak started June 1. They were 5½ games back in the NL East.
This stretch is the club’s best since it won 14 in a row from July 26 to Aug. 9, 2013. During the streak, Atlanta has outscored opponents 74-30 with 22 homers. The pitching staff has a 2.32 ERA over the same span.
It’s been equally fun for Duvall, who has mostly scuffled this season with a .206 batting average, six homers and a .614 OPS. Last year, Duvall led the NL with 113 RBIs and was second with 38 homers.
He has seven extra-base hits over his last four games.
“We’re playing good baseball and getting some timely hits is key, so it feels good,” he said.
Pittsburgh has lost a season-high six straight games, including four against the Braves. The Pirates were swept for the fifth time this season.
“We need to get out of Atlanta,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “That’s a good baseball team.”
The Braves went back-to-back in the second when Contreras hit the left-field foul pole for his ninth homer and Duvall connected to left to make it 2-0. Olson hit his eighth homer in the eighth, pushing the lead to 5-3 against Chase De Jong.
Pittsburgh pulled within 2-1 in the third on Bryan Reynolds’ sacrifice fly. Reynolds’ two-run homer off Kyle Wright, his former Vanderbilt teammate and roommate, cut the lead to 4-3 in the fifth.
“I struck him out the first time, though,” Wright said with a grin. “He’s awesome. He’s an incredible player. On the home run, it was actually a good pitch.”
Fastball up and in. I don’t know how he got to it and I don’t know how he kept it fair.”
Contreras doubled in the fourth and crossed the plate when Duvall hit his sixth homer, an opposite-field shot to right-center, to put Atlanta up 4-1. Duvall has 11 multihomer games in his career.
Quintana (1-4) was charged with six hits and four runs in five innings and had allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his previous 11 starts. The Braves are 16-6 against lefty starters and have won their last 11 games against them.
Wright (7-3) allowed five hits and three runs with two walks and seven strikeouts in six innings. Wright, who was coming off a career-high eight innings in a win over Oakland last Tuesday, had a 1.69 ERA over his previous five starts. He ranked second in the NL with a .192 opponents’ batting average.
Will Smith faced the minimum in the seventh for Atlanta, A.J. Minter pitched to three batters in the eighth and Kenley Jansen earned his 18th save in 21 chances after facing four batters in the ninth.
The Braves have won seven straight at home against the Pirates, outscoring them 55-13. Atlanta has won the season series with Pittsburgh the last four years they have played.
“It’ll be business as usual tomorrow,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “They’ll come out prepared and try to go out and win another series. That’s what the focus is.”
Reynolds began the day with a .376 career average in 58 June games. With a minimum of 200 June plate appearances since 1901, Reynolds’ average this month trails only Joe Jackson (.381) and Lou Gehrig (.378).
Braves RF Ronald Acuña Jr. reached base in the first inning on a walk, and Quintana proceeded to try and pick him off eight times throughout the remainder of the inning. That’s tied for the most pickoff atttempts drawn by a single runner in an inning this season (Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips, May 15 against Toronto). Prior to Sunday, Acuña had never drawn more than six pick attempts in a single inning in his career.
MOVING UP THE LIST
Jansen recorded his 368th save, moving into a tie with Jonathan Papelbon for 10th on the career list. Next up is Joe Nathan with 377.
Braves RHP Ian Anderson (5-3, 4.53 ERA) is on the mound as Atlanta begins a three-game series at Washington.
Pirates RHP Mitch Keller (2-5, 5.26) will start as Pittsburgh opens a four-game series at St. Louis.