Braves look to slam door on Dodgers again, sweep series

Braves look to slam door on Dodgers again, sweep series

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The Atlanta Braves are hot and so is right-hander Charlie Morton, who is set to take the mound Sunday in the finale of a four-game series against the host Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves (90-45) have won the first three games of the series that was billed as a titanic duel pitting the best team in the National League in the Braves against the Dodgers (83-52), who were better than anybody in August.

The difference in Atlanta’s 4-2 victory Saturday was Orlando Arcia’s three-run home run in the 10th inning.

The Braves have had no problem pushing their advantage from four to seven games over the Dodgers in the chase for the best record in the NL. One more victory Sunday, and a series sweep, could all but clinch home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series for the Braves.

Atlanta has won six games in a row and has gone 15-3 since Aug. 14, and Morton (14-10, 3.29 ERA) has played a big role in the run, winning his three starts during the stretch. Going back one start further, Morton has allowed just one run over his last 24 innings. He is 1-3 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 5.85 ERA in six starts.

“We all know what he can do, especially later in the year,” the Braves‘ Marcell Ozuna said. “You will see what he can do when we get into the playoffs.”

With a top offense and starting staff, there have been plenty of factors to point toward when it comes to the Braves‘ success. And there has been no greater contributor than Ronald Acuna Jr., the NL MVP favorite, who has a home run in each game of the series.

Acuna hit a grand slam in the series opener Thursday, went deep Friday and then hit a 451-foot home run Saturday that came off the bat at 121.2 mph, according to MLB Statcast.

“I was wondering if that one was the hardest one ever hit. They said it was like third or something,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “As I’ve said, you better not leave your seat to go get a beer when he comes up because you might miss something special, and that was.”

Los Angeles will send rookie right-hander Bobby Miller (8-3, 4.00) to the mound Sunday. The Dodgers are looking for Miller to fine-tune his pitching arsenal down the stretch to be an arm they can trust in the postseason.

Miller appeared out of sorts in a start Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving up four runs over the first four innings. But the hard-throwing 24-year-old maintained his composure and retired the last eight batters he faced. The turnaround allowed the Dodgers to rally for a 7-4 victory, and Miller got the win.

“I think he learned pretty quickly that you only have so much adrenaline when you’re trying to navigate a major league lineup,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You can’t expend it on things that are unforeseen or happen out of your control. He’s managing the highs and lows of an outing, and when you can do that, it allows you to go deeper into a game.”

Miller’s major league debut came May 23 at Atlanta when he gave up one run over five innings while earning the win. He faced 15 different teams in his first 15 starts, finally facing a team for the second time when he pitched against the Diamondbacks on Monday.

—Field Level Media

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.