Braves shut out Reds again, advance to NLDS

Braves shut out Reds again, advance to NLDS

Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall each hit eighth-inning, two-run homers as the host Atlanta Braves won 5-0 on Thursday to sweep the Cincinnati Reds in their best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Ronald Acuna Jr. had three hits and rookie Ian Anderson struck out nine over six strong frames for the Braves.

This was a brief but historic set that opened with Wednesday’s 1-0, 13-inning win by Atlanta. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, the club set a major league record by going scoreless in its first 22 innings of a playoff series.

Atlanta, meanwhile, snapped a 10-series playoff losing streak by winning its first since 2001 after Ozuna and Duvall both went deep late off Raisel Iglesias to put the game out of reach.

While it took 13 innings for Game 1’s only run to be scored, the first run of Thursday’s contest came in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of Acuna. With two outs, Atlanta’s lead-off hitter lined a shot off Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo into the left-center field gap that scored Austin Riley from first base.

The Reds, who stranded 13 runners on base in Game 1, left just four on Thursday, but had the bases loaded in the second before Tucker Barnhart grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the frame. Cincinnati, which struck out 16 times in Game 1, fanned another 12 on Thursday.

Anderson, the fourth rookie in Braves’ history to start a postseason contest, allowed just two hits with two walks in addition to those nine strikeouts. Castillo, meanwhile, was nearly as good while giving up six hits and striking out seven with a walk over 5 1/3 innings.

Braves relievers Will Smith, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon held the Reds without a hit. Eugenio Suarez and Freddy Galvis were responsible for Cincinnati’s two hits.

Atlanta prevailed in the series despite striking out an astounding 35 times.

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