ATLANTA (AP) — Travis d’Arnaud loves how home runs are supercharging the Atlanta Braves this season. The Braves are hitting plenty of them and winning most nights.
“It’s fun, it’s exciting, not only for the person who hits it but for everyone in the clubhouse because everybody loses it and laughs and has fun, too,” d’Arnaud said. “I think it’s better that we’re playing good baseball and winning and having good at-bats and the homers are just a byproduct of having a good game plan and trying to execute that.”
D’Arnaud and Vaughn Grissom homered off Sandy Alcantara in a four-run fourth inning, Michael Harris II homered in the sixth and the Braves won their third straight, tying a season-high with five long balls in an 8-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
The power display extended into the seventh when Austin Riley went deep for a career-high 34th time and d’Arnaud followed with his 16th, marking 201 homers, most in the NL, hit by the defending World Series champion Braves.
Harris and Grissom, both rookies, weren’t expecting to connect against a pitcher as talented as Alcantara.
“That’s something that you go into the game not expecting, but I felt like we had a good game plan and stuck to it,” Harris said. “(Grissom) motivated me before I went up and hit mine, and the rest is history.”
Atlanta, three games behind the New York Mets in the NL East, matched its season high at 31 games over .500 (82-51).
Alcantara, an All-Star coming off his major league-high fourth complete game, was cruising before the fourth. He had allowed just an infield single before Dansby Swanson hit a hard single. After Swanson stole second base, d’Arnaud followed with a homer that barely cleared the wall in left.
Harris followed with a single, and Grissom went deep for the fourth time to make it 4-1. That was all the runs the Braves and starter Charlie Morton would need.
After Alcantara hit d’Arnaud with a pitch to begin the sixth, Harris chased the right-hander with a two-run shot that put Atlanta up 6-1. Alcantara (12-7) was charged with six runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. The Marlins have dropped five straight since his last start, a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last Saturday.
Alcantara began the game 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves and was 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in two starts this season against Atlanta.
“I just think tonight he got hurt with the breaking ball,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “That’s a good club over there. He just left some breaking balls. I thought he had a good fastball today. It looked like his stuff was good. I just thought maybe he was getting a little forward in his delivery or something. The arm drags. He left a couple of breaking balls that just looked like they didn’t turn.”
Morton (7-5) gave up one run and four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. The 38-year-old right-hander improved to 11-5 with a 3.96 ERA in 21 career starts against the Marlins. In 14 games overall since June 17, Morton is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA.
Morton escaped a jam in the second after Charles LeBlanc doubled with one out and advanced on a wild pitch, getting a pair of groundouts to end the threat.
He wasn’t as fortunate in the third when Jerar Encarnación led off with an opposite-field shot to right that gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead. It was Encarnación’s second homer since he debuted with a grand slam on June 19 against the New York Mets.
The Braves also hit five homers on June 13-14 against Washington.
“We hit homers,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s what we do. We’re not built to be like that. It just happens. It’s what we do, hit a lot of homers.”
Riley has homered in three consecutive games for the second time this season and for the fourth time in his career. He also did it from July 9-11 against Washington and the New York Mets. He is second in the NL in homers and is the only player in the majors with at least 34 home runs and 34 doubles.
The Marlins are coming off an 8-20 August, the worst record in the majors.
BACK IN LINEUP
Braves LF Marcell Ozuna heard boos as he returned to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 21 and the second since he was charged with DUI in Gwinnett County on Aug. 19. Ozuna went 2 for 4. Snitker defended the decision to play Ozuna.
“He’s been working really hard,” Snitker said. “He’s part of this club. It’s time to get him out there and hopefully he can get going and be who he has in the past. Like I say, he’s been working hard, he’s had a great attitude, he’s been very positive.”
Marlins: INF Jon Berti was sidelined with a sore hip sustained in Wednesday’s loss to Tampa Bay.
Braves: Snitker said 2B Ozzie Albies felt fine after going 0 for 4 in his first rehab appearance Thursday with Triple-A Gwinnett. Albies has been out since breaking his left foot in mid-June. “It was just good to get him out there running around,” Snitker said. “As long as he’s feeling good and getting the at-bats and his timing and all that — I heard he felt good, which is a good thing.”… RHP Jackson Stephens (concussion) threw a bullpen session.
ANOTHER CAPACITY CROWD
The Braves announced 42,161 in attendance for their 33rd sellout, setting a single-season high of 2,675,846 at Truist Park, which opened in 2017.
“When this place is packed, man, the players appreciate it, I do, the organization does, it’s a fun place to come play,” Snitker said. “I think that’s why guys want to come here and why they do well when they do come here because there’s a lot of energy out there with the fan support and everything that’s going on, this is an unbelievable place to play.”
Marlins RHP Edward Cabera will face RHP Jake Odorizzi (5-5, 3.90) as the teams play the second game of a four-game series.