Braves intend to keep piling on lowly D-backs

MLB

The Atlanta Braves have rebounded from a four-game slide with three consecutive victories.

The National League East leaders strive to continue the momentum on Wednesday night when they face the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks in the third contest of a four-game series at Phoenix.

Atlanta (79-70) has outscored the Diamondbacks 17-5 over the first two games. They lead the second-place Philadelphia Phillies by three games in the division race.

While that isn’t a large advantage, it beats the one-game edge the Braves held after losing to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. The Braves beat the Giants the next day to start their winning streak.

Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson said the club needs to bear down with 13 games left in the regular season.

“All we can do is what we do, and that’s come out here and play ball and win,” Swanson said in a postgame television interview Tuesday after the Braves’ 6-1 triumph. “We’ve been doing that the last couple days — three in a row now.”

Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies each hit two-run homers and Jorge Soler added a solo blast for Atlanta in the Tuesday win. Swanson was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Riley socked his 30th homer of the season. He had three doubles and three RBIs on Monday in the Braves’ 11-4 win.

“He’s unbelievable,” Swanson said of the 24-year-old third baseman. “I wish people could see how he goes about his business. He’s so diligent. It’s amazing to see somebody in their first full (length) season do what he’s doing. It is pretty astonishing.”

While the Braves point toward the postseason, the Diamondbacks are in the process of deciding whether to retain manager Torey Lovullo for a sixth season in 2022.

Arizona (48-103) is tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in the majors and could surpass the club record for losses (111 in 2004).

Tuesday’s loss reflected some of the club’s issues. The Diamondbacks committed three errors and were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Arizona general manager Mike Hazen told reporters before the Tuesday game that a decision regarding Lovullo will be made soon, perhaps before the season concludes.

“I think Torey does a good job of managing a baseball game,” Hazen said. “I think Torey does a good job of managing a baseball team. But our win total is where it’s at, which (will be) around the worst record in club history. I think we need to walk through this decision methodically.

“We’re trying to work through this as subjectively as possible.”

Lovullo said he’s interested in learning his status.

“I’ve tried to block out the black noise and the distraction of it because we have enough going on here as a team,” Lovullo said. “I don’t want to be a part of any distraction.”

Arizona will start right-hander Merrill Kelly (7-10, 4.41 ERA) on Wednesday. Kelly will be making his second start since Aug. 11 after testing positive for COVID-19 three days later.

Kelly’s return didn’t go well on Sept. 15 as he gave up four runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings while losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kelly, 32, lost his lone career start against the Braves on May 11, 2019, when he gave up three runs and eight hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked none.

Right-hander Ian Anderson (7-5, 3.75 ERA) will be on the mound Wednesday for the Braves.

The 23-year-old served up three homers in a no-decision against the Giants on Friday. He allowed four runs, five hits, two walks and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings.

Anderson will be facing the Diamondbacks for the first time.

–Field Level Media

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