Freeman, Braves pound Cubs 13-4, lose Acuña to injury
CHICAGO (AP) — The Atlanta Braves say it’s next man up when it comes to their rash of injuries so far this season.
They might need a few men to step up if Ronald Acuña Jr. has to go on the injured list.
Acuña’s abdominal strain cast a shadow over Atlanta’s 13-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night, even after the Braves bashed four homers in the first inning against Kyle Hendricks.
Freddie Freeman, Travis d’Arnaud, Ehire Adrianza and Guillermo Heredia connected during Atlanta’s fast start, and Heredia added his first career grand slam in the sixth for his first multihomer game. But the Braves’ big concern after the win was the status of Acuña, who departed in the fourth after he got banged up during a tough trip around the bases.
“He’s got an abdominal strain, and we’ll know more tomorrow,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Snitker said he isn’t sure if Acuña is going to need a stint on the IL.
“It was so late here that they couldn’t get the test that they wanted, so they’ll get it tomorrow in New York and, like I said, we’ll know more then,” he said.
The loss of Acuña for any significant chunk of time would be a tough blow for Atlanta, which has been hit hard by injuries. The dynamic outfielder began the day with a .433 batting average, seven homers, 16 RBIs and 20 runs scored.
Heredia finished with a career-high six RBIs, and d’Arnaud drove in three runs. Bryse Wilson (1-0) pitched five innings of three-run ball in his first appearance of the season.
Anthony Rizzo hit two solo drives for Chicago, which lost for the sixth time in eight games. It was Rizzo’s first multihomer game since Aug. 29 at Cincinnati and No. 19 for his career.
“Their lineup is deep with a lot of thump,” Rizzo said, “and just tonight wasn’t Kyle’s night in the first.”
The Cubs bashed six homers during Saturday’s 13-4 victory, but it was the Braves showing off their power in the rubber game of the weekend set.
“As far as the result yesterday, you know obviously it wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t what we wanted,” Heredia said through a translator. “But it’s one of those things where you kind of put it behind you and you come out looking to the next day to kind of have the game that we put together.”
Freeman kicked it off with a one-out solo drive that cleared the bleachers in right for his fifth homer, traveling an estimated 421 feet. D’Arnaud connected for a two-run shot, Adrianza belted a solo homer and Heredia capped Atlanta’s six-run first with another two-run drive.
The Braves hit four homers in the first inning for the first time since May 28, 2003, against Cincinnati. The Cubs allowed four homers in an inning for the first time since the seventh on July 4, 2010, against the Reds.
Hendricks (0-2) was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in four innings in his first start since April 7. The right-hander was slated to pitch Tuesday at Milwaukee, but he was scratched because of an illness.
“Just not very good overall from the start,” Hendricks said. “Not aggressive, falling behind guys and then just everything was flat.”
NOT BAD AT ALL
Heredia was 0 for 7 in three games this season before busting out against the Cubs. According to STATS, he became the first player to drive in at least six runs in a game from the No. 8 spot in the Braves’ lineup since RBIs became an official stat in 1920.
Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was held out for the second straight game. He was hit on the right calf by a pitch in the ninth inning of Friday’s 5-2 win in the series opener. The Braves are off Monday, and Snitker said he thinks Albies will be ready to play Tuesday night against the New York Yankees. ... Snitker is hoping LHP Max Fried (right hamstring) just misses one start, but he said he “can’t say for sure that it won’t be longer.” Fried was placed on the 10-day injured list after he got hurt running the bases during Tuesday’s 14-8 loss to Miami.
Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (1-1, 4.76 ERA) starts Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game set at the Yankees. RHP Jameson Taillon (0-1, 7.56 ERA) gets the ball for New York.
Cubs: Following a day off, RHP Jake Arrieta (2-1, 3.18 ERA) starts Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series against the New York Mets. RHP Taijuan Walker (0-0, 2.61 ERA) goes for the visiting Mets.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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