SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves fully expect the division race to go down to the wire with the New York Mets.
Dansby Swanson believes the Braves still can be so much better with plenty of baseball left — controlling what they can control and not worrying about what New York does night after night.
Kyle Wright earned his major league-leading 18th victory, Swanson homered and drove in three runs and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 5-1 on Tuesday night to pull within a half-game of the first-place Mets in the NL East.
“I feel like we have so much more to grow as a team, I feel like we can really get into a good groove and rhythm 1 through 9,” Swanson said. “Starters, bullpen, I feel like we have a lot left in the tank and I think we’ll definitely continue to pursue that and show that for the rest of the year.”
Wright struck out four while pitching into the sixth. The right-hander won his fifth straight decision.
Swanson hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the third and Michael Harris II added an RBI single later that inning to support Wright (18-5). Robbie Grossman drove in a run on a groundout for Atlanta.
Swanson added an RBI single in the ninth.
Wright bounced back from a no-decision at Oakland last week in which he allowed a career-high eight runs while lasting only four innings. On Tuesday, he allowed one run on three hits and walked three over 5 1/3 innings.
“I was kind of lagging behind at first and once I ramped up the intensity I felt like the arm was back on time and where it needed to be,” Wright said.
Joc Pederson gave the Giants a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first off Wright.
Then the Braves’ big hitters started swinging as Atlanta snapped a season-long three-game skid as it wraps up a seven-game road trip out West on Wednesday. The Braves and Mets are the only clubs in baseball not to lose four in a row this year.
Swanson connected for his 20th homer off Giants starter Jakob Junis (4-6). Junis struck out five and didn’t walk a batter in five innings while facing the Braves for the first time.
Highly regarded Giants pitching prospect Cole Waites made his major league debut pitching the top of the seventh. He allowed a hit and walked a batter.
A day after Giants reliever Zack Littell showed up manager Gabe Kapler when pulled in the eighth inning, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas in what Kapler called a decision based on performance.
Littell had words for the manager when replaced for Scott Robertson and handed the ball to Kapler harder than usual in the Giants’ 3-2 win Monday night. The pitcher apologized after the game in Kapler’s office.
“I can understand why that would seem correlated from the outside but we’re making this move to get somebody on independent of the incident that we had,” said Kapler, who told Littell there would be an opportunity to return. “I’ll say this, good teammate behavior is part of performance as well, so I don’t want to say that there’s no part of makeup that we consider when we make decisions. That’s always going to be considered and we’re going to appreciate and respect the highest level of teammate behavior always.”
The Giants recalled LHP Thomas Szapucki from Sacramento.
Braves: 2B Vaughn Grissom had a day off. He played Monday after colliding with Robbie Grossman a day earlier on a high pop into shallow right field and grabbing his right leg while on the ground. … 2B Ozzie Albies, rehabbing from a broken left foot that has kept him out since June 14, was set to play nine innings Tuesday and Wednesday to see how his body does. After Sunday was rained out and with an off day Monday, Braves manager Brian Snitker figured he was well rested and fresh to test himself. “He’s running around good, his foot is really good,” Snitker said.
Giants: LHP Alex Wood (impingement in his pitching shoulder) won’t be ready to start again in the next couple of days, Kapler said. … OF Austin Slater is still wearing a splint for his sprained left hand and not yet ready to start swinging a bat.
RHP Charlie Morton (8-5, 4.08 ERA) looks to win his third straight start and fourth consecutive decision when he pitches the series finale for Atlanta opposite Giants LHP Carlos Rodón, whose 10 double-digit strikeout games this season are a franchise record.