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Swanson homers in Braves' sweep of Marlins

Atlanta rallies after Acuna's HBP, benches-clearing incident
August 15, 2018

ATLANTA -- During Dansby Swanson's struggles throughout most of this season, the Braves stuck with him and held out hope that he would eventually show the promise that he displayed over the final two games of this week's Marlins series.Swanson helped the Braves complete a four-game sweep when he delivered

ATLANTA -- During Dansby Swanson's struggles throughout most of this season, the Braves stuck with him and held out hope that he would eventually show the promise that he displayed over the final two games of this week's Marlins series.
Swanson helped the Braves complete a four-game sweep when he delivered a go-ahead two-run homer in a 5-2 win that was secured after Ronald Acuna Jr. was hit by a pitch and the benches cleared during Wednesday night's first inning at SunTrust Park.
"Everybody knows the emotions and reactions," Swanson said. "You just kind of go into protect mode because that is family. I think everybody was able to see that. But at the end of the day, what I was most proud of was the ability to bounce back and keep our composure."

As the Braves won for the 14th time in their past 18 games and maintained their two-game lead over the Phillies in the National League East, they chose not to retaliate after Jose Urena hit the red-hot Acuna near the left elbow with a 97.5-mph fastball -- his highest velocity on a first pitch thrown in any career start.
Braves manager Brian Snitker and Urena were both ejected after the benches cleared for a second time before play resumed. Acuna, who had tallied eight homers over the previous eight games, exited just before the first pitch of the second inning was thrown. But with their young phenom out of the game, the Braves still managed to back Kevin Gausman, who limited the Marlins to two runs over six innings.

Forced to go to their bullpen after just one pitch, the Marlins received three scoreless innings from Elieser Hernandez. But left-hander Jarlin Garcia's attempt to preserve a 2-0 lead quickly evaporated as he allowed a Charlie Culberson double and stolen base, an Ender Inciarte RBI groundout and walked Tyler Flowers ahead of Swanson's two-run homer in the fourth.
"He looked good yesterday," Snitker said. "He's working in the right direction. That was huge. If we get Dansby going, that is going to do nothing but make us better."
Swanson delivered the key two-out single that scored the first of the four runs the Braves tallied during Tuesday night's decisive seventh inning. But he entered this series finale hitting .237 on the season and .203 dating back to June 6.
Swanson's homer off Garcia was the first he has hit against a left-hander since he took Boston's Thomas Pomeranz deep at Fenway Park on May 26. He entered Wednesday batting .155 (9-for-58) against southpaws dating back to May 27.
"Staying in the middle of the field is such a big deal," Swanson said. "It kind of just shows you you're seeing the ball better and putting yourself in a good position to be able to succeed. I'm starting to feel like I'm getting back to where I was at the beginning of the year, which is great. It's just good to keep moving forward and keep contributing."

GAUSMAN DEALS
When Gausman opened the game by issuing a five-pitch walk to Rafael Ortega, who scored on Brian Anderson's RBI single, it was evident he didn't have the command he had in his last outing. On Friday, he worked eight strong innings against the Brewers and threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the first 23 batters. But Starlin Castro's fourth-inning leadoff homer accounted for the only other run surrendered by the veteran hurler, who has a 2.84 ERA through three starts since being acquired from the Orioles.
"With this team, you never feel like you're out of the game," Gausman said. "You just try to put up zeros and eventually, they're going to put up good at-bats."

MEDICAL UPDATE
X-rays on Acuna's elbow were negative, but the Braves will keep their fingers crossed until Thursday, when they will receive results of a CT Scan. Per MLB's Rule 9.23, Acuna's franchise-tying streak of five games with a home run will continue because he did not record an official at-bat before exiting Wednesday's game.

UP NEXT
Julio Teheran will take the mound when the Braves begin a four-game series against the Rockies on Thursday night. Teheran has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last three starts and owns a 0.71 ERA over his past four starts against the Rockies. Colorado will counter with Jon Gray, who has a 2.91 ERA over his last seven starts. First pitch is set for 7:35 p.m. ET.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.