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Acuna exacts revenge as Braves blank Marlins

Phenom takes over MLB rookie homer lead, then hit by pitch
MLB.com

MIAMI -- En route to the Braves' 5-0 win over the Marlins on Thursday night at Marlins Park, Ronald Acuna Jr. got his revenge as more drama unfolded.

In Atlanta's first contest against Miami since Jose Urena's first pitch plunked Acuna on Aug. 15, he obliterated a solo home run in the third before once again being struck by a pitch in the sixth.

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MIAMI -- En route to the Braves' 5-0 win over the Marlins on Thursday night at Marlins Park, Ronald Acuna Jr. got his revenge as more drama unfolded.

In Atlanta's first contest against Miami since Jose Urena's first pitch plunked Acuna on Aug. 15, he obliterated a solo home run in the third before once again being struck by a pitch in the sixth.

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Video: ATL@MIA: Acuna, Mattingly and Guerra on hit by pitch

"He's just having really good at-bats," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's making good contact. He just missed the first one and then lined out to right field. He's just having some good at bats, taking some borderline pitches, keeping himself in good counts. You know, he's just swinging the bat really well."

Ender Inciarte and Charlie Culberson each added home runs of their own in the win.

Video: ATL@MIA: Inciarte cracks a solo home run to right

Southpaw Sean Newcomb was brilliant, tossing six frames and allowing just two hits for the victory. The left-hander, who struck out eight batters, didn't allow a hit until the fifth.

Newcomb's stellar pitching performance aside, all eyes were on each Acuna at-bat.

Video: ATL@MIA: Newcomb fans 8 over 6 scoreless frames

After flying out to straightaway center to lead off the game, Acuna sent a 2-2 hanging slider from Elieser Hernandez in the third inning deep to left field.

Hernandez started Thursday in place of Urena, who dropped his appeal and began serving his six-game suspension on Tuesday.

Video: ATL@MIA: Acuna flies out to the warning track in 1st

Acuna's 21st homer of the season gives him sole possession of the Major League lead among rookies. He certainly enjoyed the moment as well, taking his time to watch the ball fly before flipping his bat emphatically and slowly trotting around the bases.

"It felt good with everything that had been going on just to be able to hit that homer," Acuna said via an interpreter.

More drama built when the 20-year-old phenom stepped in for his fourth plate appearance during the sixth inning.

On an 0-2 count, Marlins right-hander Javy Guerra went high and tight with a 93.9-mph fastball, clipping Acuna near the right wrist area as he bent to try and get out of the way. After being struck, Acuna slammed his helmet on the ground before walking down to first alongside the Braves' training staff.

"It looked like it hurt. I think that was a lot of what was going through his mind in that moment," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "Of course, frustration with the team it was again and all that, but in that situation, he's not trying to drill him. Definitely bad timing for that to happen today."

Video: ATL@MIA: Acuna plunked by Guerra in the 6th inning

Acuna, when asked about his reaction to being hit by another pitch, said he was just engrossed in the moment but understood that it's part of the game. His manager applauded the rookie for keeping his emotions in check after his initial outburst.

"I'd be angry, too. It hurts." Snitker said. "He did exactly what he should've done -- went to first."

Guerra confirmed postgame in the Marlins' clubhouse that there was no intention on his part; he simply lost control of a high fastball.

"Yeah, it's going to get a lot of attention. I'm pretty aware," Guerra said. "But 0-2, everybody knows I'm not trying to go in there. I'm not trying to hurt the kid."

Later in the inning, the Braves retaliated. Newcomb struck Marlins rookie Brian Anderson with a 93.8-mph fastball, and both benches were issued warnings.

Video: ATL@MIA: Anderson gets plunked by Newcomb in the 6th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the Braves ahead 5-0 in the sixth inning, Newcomb ran into trouble.

A one-out single from Rafael Ortega -- just the Marlins' second hit of the evening -- forced the lefty into the stretch. After striking out J.T. Realmuto, he proceeded to plunk Anderson and walk Starlin Castro.

With two outs and the bases loaded, however, Newcomb escaped unscathed with a huge inning-ending groundout to second base from Austin Dean, ending the threat as well as his night.

"Early on, I couldn't get [the curveball] down, but once I started getting aggressive with it, it started to click," Newcomb said.

Video: ATL@MIA: Newcomb gets groundout, strands bases full

SOUND SMART
Acuna has now hit seven home runs in 16 games against the National League East rival Marlins. That is more than double the homers he has hit against any other team in his career.

Acuna is batting .333 (20-for-60) against the Marlins, with 18 RBIs, 18 runs and nine walks.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Perhaps you were caught up in Acuna's bat flip or the way he stared at his majestic big fly before rounding the bases.

So where exactly did the ball land?

Statcast™ had Acuna's solo shot at 432 feet, with a 105-mph exit velocity and 29-degree launch angle. It also left its mark at Marlins Park, causing a huge dent just below the bar high above the left-center-field fence. More >

Video: ATL@MIA: Acuna crushes a long solo home run to left

HE SAID IT
"I told [bench coach Walt Weiss] before the game, 'We're playing the secret weapon.' He steps in, gives the guy a break and does something good every time." -- Snitker, on Culberson, who is now hitting .362 (25-for-69) since the All-Star break after a two-hit night on Thursday

Video: ATL@MIA: Culberson smashes 2-run homer to left field

UP NEXT
The Braves send Mike Foltynewicz to the mound to take on the Marlins at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday to open Players' Weekend. Foltynewicz is 5-1 in his career against the Marlins, with a 3.31 ERA in 10 appearances and 51 2/3 innings. On Aug. 13, the right-hander tossed eight stellar innings in a win against Miami, allowing just one run. The Marlins counter with right-hander Dan Straily.

Max Goodman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @Max_Goodman97.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr.