Albies' walk-off HR gives Braves share of 1st

Atlanta rallies after squandering 5-0 lead, yielding go-ahead run in 11th inning

August 12th, 2021

ATLANTA -- Considering all the Braves have had to overcome, it may have been fitting for them to reach first place in dramatic fashion.

Staring at the possibility of being deflated by 's second blown save in five days, Atlanta rekindled its late-inning magic of old and celebrated the walk-off homer that capped an 8-6, 11-inning win over the Reds on Wednesday night at Truist Park.

“When you don’t win one like this, it’s a kick in the gut,” said manager Brian Snitker, whose team will try to sweep the three-game series on Thursday. “When you do, there’s nothing like it.”

As Albies’ three-run homer off former Atlanta top prospect Lucas Sims sailed deep over the right-field wall, the Braves further distanced themselves from the late-inning frustration they had tasted for much of the season. They have now won seven of their past eight games and sit in a first-place tie with the Phillies in the National League East standings.

"You can’t win the division tomorrow, but it's good to be where we’re at,” Snitker said. “We’re relevant. We’re playing meaningful games.”

Few could have expected the Braves would be playing meaningful games, given they have spent more than two months without Marcell Ozuna and a little more than a month without Ronald Acuña Jr. Knowing they would be without both for the remainder of the season, the club aggressively picked up pieces leading up to the Trade Deadline.

Now, the Braves are reaping the benefits while continuing to benefit from the All-Star talents of Freddie Freeman and Albies, who has slumbered the past few weeks, but now has home runs in two of his past three games.

This latest homer certainly further energized this Braves club that sat four games out of first place when August began.

“The team is rolling,” Albies said. “Everybody is feeding off each other right now.”

That’s why this win was so important. The Braves led 5-0 with the assistance of two Austin Riley doubles and Guillermo Heredia’s two-run homer off Reds starter Wade Miley. Then, Joey Votto happened. Votto hit a two-run homer off Touki Toussaint in the sixth and then drilled a game-tying, two-run shot off Smith with two outs in the ninth.

Then, the Reds tallied a run with Edgar Santana on the mound in the top of the 11th. Had the Braves not come back to win, a testy Snitker would have been very short with the reporters who asked about Smith continuing to serve as the team’s closer.

But because the team won, Snitker was able to brush off thoughts of a closer controversy without much gruff.

“That's a pretty good hitter that he gave that home run up to,” Snitker said. “That's gonna happen you know, I was watching Craig [Kimbrel] the other day and he gave up one [homer]. He's a Hall of Famer. It happens.”

Fortunately for Smith, Albies managed to sour Votto’s two-homer performance. The Braves second baseman nearly took Michael Lorenzen deep in the ninth. He didn’t miss when Sims elevated a 2-1 fastball that traveled a Statcast-projected 412 feet into the Chop House.

“When I got to home plate, I was thinking of tying the ballgame with a base hit,” Albies said. “But I got the pitch I was looking for in a hitter’s count and I did what I had to do.”