ATLANTA -- If the Braves gain a postseason berth during the final day of the regular season, they may point to any of their seven walk-off wins, including the one recorded on May 20, when they erased a five-run deficit with a six-run ninth.Or they may remember what occurred on
ATLANTA -- If the Braves gain a postseason berth during the final day of the regular season, they may point to any of their seven walk-off wins, including the one recorded on May 20, when they erased a five-run deficit with a six-run ninth.
Or they may remember what occurred on Sunday, when they went toe-to-toe with another legit postseason contender and managed to do something they had accomplished just twice since moving to Atlanta.
Excitement, exhilaration and exhaustion was expressed by the Braves after Ozzie Albies drilled a seventh-inning home run that proved decisive in Sunday afternoon's 8-7 win over the Brewers at SunTrust Park. This marked just the third time in Atlanta history (dating back to 1966) that the Braves won a game in which they allowed at least 19 hits.
"It's big to find a way to win that game," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "You've got to have something like that throughout the year."
With the series win against this Brewers club that has October aspirations, the Braves moved back into a first-place tie with the Phillies atop the National League East. The Braves have won 10 of their past 14 and will now move forward after what seemed to be an improbable win.
"It's huge," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I'm just so proud of the way the guys fought today. At one point of the game, I felt like we were about eight runs down. There's a lot of grit and fight in these guys. That's probably one of the hardest games we've had to win all year."
The Braves improved to 3-59 when allowing at least 19 hits since 1966. Their most recent win when doing so was a 15-12, 11-inning victory over the Padres on July 14, 2006. But their most recent win in a nine-inning game had occurred on July 26, 1964, when the Milwaukee Braves overcame 20 hits in a 15-10 win over the Mets.
"This place is electric," Braves left-handed reliever Jonny Venters said. "This team is fun to watch. They're playing good baseball. It's an exciting time right now."
Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb surrendered a season-high 12 hits and allowed five runs over just four innings against a squad that combined for just 13 hits in the first two games of this series. But his ability to escape a bases-loaded threat moments after surrendering Jesus Aguilar's go-ahead three-run homer in the fourth, proved valuable when Dansby Swanson and Albies teamed to provide timely power.
Swanson erased the Brewers' 7-5 lead with his two-run homer in the sixth off Corbin Burnes. Albies then delivered the crushing blow when he greeted Dan Jennings by blasting a 1-0 slider over the left-field wall. The All-Star second baseman's 21st homer of the season provided the Braves their first lead since Aguilar drilled a three-run homer off Newcomb in the fourth inning.
Pitching in Atlanta for the first time since coming within a strike of no-hitting the Dodgers on July 29, Newcomb struggled to command his fastball and never truly found a feel for his curve or slider. The left-hander recorded a strike with 58 of his 96 pitches and was fortunate to surrender just five runs. He has allowed 10 earned runs over 7 2/3 innings against the Brewers this season.
"I wish I could have given them a better effort," Newcomb said. "But the [offense] did its job."
Nick Markakis provided an RBI triple in Atlanta's two-run first and took advantage of Freddie Freeman's second double by delivering a two-out RBI single in the fifth. Ronald Acuna Jr. aided the Braves' attack with a two-run shot in the second against Brewers starter Chase Anderson, who also lasted just four innings.
With Acuna producing eight homers and a 1.073 OPS since moving into the leadoff spot on July 20, the Braves once again have a potent offense. There are still some questions to answer regarding a young and injury-depleted rotation. But a few Trade Deadline additions have at least bolstered a bullpen that seems capable of proving valuable throughout the postseason chase.
"We feel like we're real," Snitker said. "We've felt like that for a long time. We're going to take it a day at a time. We're a good ballclub. These guys should be proud of everything they have accomplished."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After allowing Aguilar's homer in the fourth, Newcomb ended a bases-loaded threat by escaping with Manny Pina's popup. But the most important escape might have been performed by Venters, who allowed two straight singles to open the seventh and then overcame a Flowers throwing error that put runners at second and third with no outs. He struck out Christian Yelich, intentionally walked Aguilar and then induced Ryan Braun's inning-ending double-play grounder.
"It was a tough game and a big win for us," Venters said. "I was just glad I was able to get out there and get three outs. It wasn't pretty, but …"
Swanson fell behind with a 1-2 count in the sixth inning after he whiffed on consecutive sliders from Burnes. But the Brewers' reliever made a mistake with a 95.5-mph fastball inside that the Braves' shortstop drilled over the left-field wall for his ninth homer of the season and just his third extra-base hit since the All-Star break.
Though Swanson has struggled over the past two months, he still has proven dangerous against pitches like the one Burnes offered. The former first overall Draft pick entered Sunday hitting hitting .316 (18-for-57) against pitches thrown 95-mph plus and slugging .607 vs. pitches on the inner third of the strike zone.
"That's great for him," Snitker said. "It couldn't have happened to a better guy and nobody needed it worse than he did."
Acuna became just the third Braves player in the past 110 seasons to reach 15 career homers before his 21st birthday. The other two were Andruw Jones, who tallied 26 before turning 21, and Eddie Mathews, who had 25.
The Braves are expected to call up Touki Toussaint to pitch the first game of Monday's doubleheader against Miami at SunTrust Park. MLB Pipeline ranks the right-hander as the game's 76th-best prospect and No. 7 in Atlanta's system. Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound for the nightcap. Game times for the split doubleheader are 1:35 and 7:35 p.m. ET. The Marlins have penciled in Pablo Lopez and Merandy Gonzalez as their starters, but they haven't decided which rookie will start the opener.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.