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Acuna smacks first homer at SunTrust Park

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- In the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park, a tie game was on the line and the Braves needed to find a way to get the upper hand on the Cubs. And it was Ronald Acuna Jr. who delivered.

With two outs, Acuna took a Carl Edwards Jr. fastball over the deepest part of the center-field wall to give the Braves its first lead of the night, 2-1.

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ATLANTA -- In the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park, a tie game was on the line and the Braves needed to find a way to get the upper hand on the Cubs. And it was Ronald Acuna Jr. who delivered.

With two outs, Acuna took a Carl Edwards Jr. fastball over the deepest part of the center-field wall to give the Braves its first lead of the night, 2-1.

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But the elation of Acuna's home run diminished as the Cubs took back the lead in the ninth with a pair of RBIs from Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist, which allowed the Cubs to notch the 3-2 win.

The home run was Acuna's fourth in his career and first at SunTrust Park. After the Braves left fielder crossed home, smiles erupted on faces in the dugout as Acuna walked down the steps embracing teammates and receiving high fives as he went along.

And while it seemed like a singular moment for him, personally, he said it was the game situation that made it more passionate.

"It was an emotional moment more than anything because it helped us take the lead," Acuna said. "But it isn't just about when I hit a home run, it can be [Nick] Markakis, it can be [Freddie] Freeman, it can be anyone on the team. When they hit a home run in that type of situation that gives us the lead, it's an emotional moment that I think we all kind of take joy and pleasure in."

Before Tuesday's game, manager Brian Snitker said there is still a lot more to come from the youth on his team, Acuna included.

"They are young guys," Snitker said. "They are not physically at their peak yet… they can get better at things ... If you think they are going to come up here and set this league on fire, it's probably not going to happen."

Acuna's last home run came on May 8 in Tampa Bay. The solo shot gave the Braves the 1-0 win. Since then, Acuna has been fairly quiet at the plate, going 4-for-27 in his last seven games before Tuesday.

Video: ATL@TB: Acuna crushes a 434-ft. homer to left field

Snitker said this is a "normal" path many young players take throughout the season.

"They go through the gamut," Snitker said. "You go from probably thinking too much and getting away from hitting."

And it's because of this normalcy, more so than anything else, that made Tuesday night's home run mean more for Acuna's confidence as a young athlete than his pride.

"It definitely helps to get a hit like that, especially it being a home run," Acuna said. "It returns the confidence … hopefully this will get things going and turn things around."

But despite all of this, the Cubs' comeback in the ninth took away a little of the shine from Acuna's night. The moment, he says, is still memorable, but after the Cubs took back the lead, it didn't really matter anymore.

"I mean this moment will stick with me, but at the end of the day, it wasn't the result that we wanted," Acuna said. "We didn't win the game. Really, when you think about it, the home run didn't mean anything."

Tori McElhaney is a contributor to MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr.