ATLANTA (AP)Austin Riley loved being a part of a homer-happy night for the Atlanta Braves.
”When this lineup clicks up and down, it’s scary,” he said.
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a grand slam in the second inning off Tyler Anderson, pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza added another slam in the eighth against position player Wilmer Difo and the Braves homered seven times in a 20-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Riley homered twice for his first multihomer game, and Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson also went deep for the Braves, who became the first team in major league history to have seven or more homers in a game that included two slams, according to STATS.
”It was awesome,” Riley said. ”Just seemed like everything clicked offensively. I think it really goes to show what this team is capable of doing. I know things might not seem like they’re clicking right now on a daily basis, but it’s there, and it’s a matter of time.”
Pittsburgh tied a 20-1 loss to Brooklyn on Aug. 1, 1890, and a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn on May 20, 1896, for its third-largest margin of defeat, behind a 27-5 loss at Cincinnati om Sept. 12, 1883, and a 20-0 loss to Milwaukee on April 22, 2010.
Acuna had five RBIs and gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead with his 14th homer, which tied the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani for the major league lead. Acuna’s first slam came against Pittsburgh’s Alex McRae on June 10, 2019.
Difo, a 29-year-old middle infielder in his seventh major league season, relieved to start the bottom of the eighth with the Pirates trailing 12-0.
Pitching to catcher Jacob Stallings, Difo threw at up to 88 mph, and Adrianza homered on a first-pitch 80 mph offering. Difo allowed three walks and six hits in his one inning, giving up run-scoring singles to Kevan Smith and Guillermo Heredia, Ozuna’s RBI double and Riley’s sacrifice fly.
Difo left with a 72.00 career ERA.
”I think Stallings summed it up best,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said with a laugh. ”Difo didn’t have his best stuff tonight, and they capitalized on it.”
Atlanta avoided falling what would have been a season-worst five games under .500. The three-time defending NL champions had lost seven of their previous 10 games.
Atlanta’s Ian Anderson started against Pittsburgh’s Tyler Anderson, after Ian Anderson started and won at Milwaukee last Saturday in a game the Brewers started Brett Anderson.
This marked the first time since 1900 that a pitcher started consecutive games against different pitchers with the same last name as him, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Ian Anderson (4-1) gave up six hits in six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and no walks as the Braves won for the seventh time in his last eight starts. He stranded two runners in the first, one runner in the second, one in the fifth and two in the sixth. Two of the hits came on bunts and another was an infield single.
Anderson improved to 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in eight career home starts. Atlanta starters have combined for a 2.50 ERA over the last 17 games.
Tyler Anderson (3-4) gave up nine runs, 10 hits – seven for extra bases – and two walks in five innings. The Pirates had won five of his previous six starts.
Shelton said it will be easy to move on from such a lopsided loss.
”It’s actually easier to move on from a game like this because the games that are 4-1, 4-3, there’s situations you look back and think this couldn’t have been different,” he said. ”Tonight we just got beat. You just move on from it and come back tomorrow.”
Albies and Riley homered back to back in the fifth for a 9-0 lead, and Riley and Swanson hit consecutive homers in the seventh against Chasen Shreve.
”We’ve been struggling to score runs and get hits, so that was good to see,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ”There were some good at-bats, going the other way, it was a good night. And the way Ian backed up his last start with how he threw tonight was really good.”
Pirates: Shelton said RHP Trevor Cahill was showing improvement in his left calf but is still day to day and getting treatments. … OF Ka’ai Tom was placed on the 10-day injured list with a bruised left wrist. INF Cole Tucker was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. … Nick Gonzales sustained an injury to his right hand in a game Wednesday with Double-A Greensboro. He is projected to return to baseball activities in four to six weeks.
Braves: C Travis d’Arnaud, on the 60-day DL with torn left thumb ligament, had his stitches removed and is still wearing a cast, but Snitker said he has begun some baseball activities such as running, throwing and swinging a bat with one arm. … C Alex Jackson (left hamstring strain) began a rehab assignment Friday at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Pirates RHP Mitch Keller (2-5, 7.16 ERA) will face Braves RHP Bryse Wilson (1-2, 5.50).
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