Ozuna, Riley spur 4-run rally in 8th, Braves top Padres
ATLANTA (AP) — Marcell Ozuna homered and Austin Riley hit a tiebreaking double during a four-run rally in the eighth inning Saturday that lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 6-5 victory over the San Diego Padres.
The Braves tagged reliever Steven Wilson (3-1) for Ozzie Albies’ RBI single, Ozuna’s two-run homer and Riley’s go-ahead hit.
“It’s what you play for here every day,” Albies said. “You want to win games, so we came back and it was huge. We never give up. That’s our game. We keep pushing and pushing envelopes every day because we want to win. You guys saw it. We got down and we came back because that’s how we play the game.”
The game appeared to turn in San Diego’s favor in top of the eighth when first baseman Matt Olson misplayed Trent Grisham’s grounder for a two-base error with one out. Grisham advanced on Will Smith’s wild pitch and scored on Jorge Alfaro’s single to tie it at 2.
After Jake Cronenworth doubled, Jurickson Profar drew a walk to set the stage for Braves closer Kenley Jansen (2-0) to face Manny Machado with the bases loaded. Machado hit a grounder to Riley at third base, but his throw to second sailed into shallow center field for an error that allowed two runs to score.
San Diego added another run to make it 5-2 on Eric Hosmer’s RBI forceout.
“It’s a disappointing loss but it’s indicative of the way the series is shaping up,” Padres acting manager Ryan Christenson said. “This is two really good teams slugging it out with each other.
“Last night’s game was back and forth with one delivering a blow and the other team answering and the other team delivering a blow and the team answering again. That’s the same thing that happened today,” he said.
Christenson is running the team while manager Bob Melvin recovers from prostate surgery earlier in the week.
Padres starter Sean Manaea struck out 12 in seven innings. Every Atlanta batter except for Albies whiffed against Manaea.
Braves starter Charlie Morton gave up one run and two hits in six innings and struck out nine. He was in command early, retiring nine of the first 10 batters with six strikeouts.
Wil Myers walked with one out in the Padres fifth and scored on Grisham’s double, trimming the lead to 2-1.
Olson’s fourth homer made it 1-0 in the first as the Braves slugger faced Manaea, his former Oakland teammate, for the first time. The ball sailed 399 feet into Atlanta bullpen in right-center.
“He had all three pitches working — changeup, heater, slider,” Olson said. “He was elevating well with the fastball when he needed to and he kept the changeup down. Normally when he runs into any trouble he leaves that off-speed up, but he was good with it today. I’m sure a lot of these guys haven’t seen him much, so that plays a factor, too.”
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the third when William Contreras walked, advanced on Travis Demeritte’s single and scored on Albies’ opposite-field double down the line in right.
The defending World Series champion Braves have won four of six to improve to 16-18.
“It just shows the growth and maturity of this team,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s why they’ve been so successful over the last few years. They can turn the page on a bad game. They can turn the page on a bad inning.”
Braves RF Ronald Acuña Jr. missed his third straight game with a sore groin. Snitker said Acuña was expected to play, but he reported feeling uncomfortable when he arrived at the ballpark. The Braves had him undergo an MRI, the results of which were negative. Snitker added that Acuña likely will be held out Sunday, too.
Demeritte, filling in for Acuña in right field, raced forward for a sliding catch to nab Ha-Seong Kim’s liner with a runner on first and one out in the fifth.
RHP Joe Musgrove (4-0, 2.08 ERA) will make his seventh start for the Padres as the teams play the rubber game of the three-game series in an 11:35 a.m. start Sunday. Musgrove is 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA in seven career starts against Atlanta. RHP Kyle Wright (3-2, 3.03 ERA) will make his seventh start for Atlanta. Wright will face San Diego for the second time and is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA against the Padres.
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By GEORGE HENRY
AP Sports Writer