Braves host Pirates, look to build on walk-off heroics


The Atlanta Braves hope to ride a late-game wave of momentum when they open a four-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

The Braves ended a three-game losing streak Wednesday on a walk-off homer from Ronald Acuna Jr., who broke out of a 0-for-13 slump to connect for his National League-leading 13th home run. The win enabled Atlanta to salvage one game from the three-game series against the New York Mets.

“If we ever needed a timely win, this was probably it,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “We kind of kept shooting ourselves in the foot, so it was nice to come away with a win.”

The Pirates are in the same boat. They have lost three in a row after dropping both games of a two-game set in St. Louis. They battled back from a 6-0 deficit but still lost 8-5 on Wednesday.

The Braves will send veteran left-hander Drew Smyly (2-2, 5.23 ERA) to the mound against Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (0-2, 4.35).

Crowe has not allowed more than three runs in any start, but he has not pitched past the sixth inning. He lost a 3-1 decision to San Francisco on May 13, allowing three runs in five innings, matching his season high with five strikeouts.

“When I’m able to command my off-speed and not only command it, but it’s good and it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, what it does itself when I throw it right, it keeps guys honest,” Crowe said.

Crowe has one career appearance against the Braves, which came last year while a member of the Washington Nationals. He allowed three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

Smyly has looked good in two starts since coming off the injured list with left forearm inflammation. He gave up one run over six innings in a win against Milwaukee last Friday. In his past two starts. Smyly has given up a combined two runs over 12 innings with eight strikeouts.

Smyly has made four career appearances, three starts, against the Pirates, going 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA.

The Pittsburgh offense is led by Adam Frazier, who had two hits on Wednesday to reach 500 for his career. Frazier, who grew up as a Braves fan in nearby Athens, Ga., ranks first in the National League with 54 hits. Frazier is 11-for-22 in the past five games and has 25 hits this month. He is hitting .325.

Gregory Polanco had two hits on Wednesday and is 8-for-25 with six RBI in eight games since returning from the injured list. He was 4-for-7 with two walks in the St. Louis series.

The Braves made a pair of roster moves on Wednesday. They activated left-hand reliever Grant Dayton from the 10-day injured list with left thigh inflammation and sent left-hander Tucker Davidson back to Triple-A Gwinnett. Atlanta also acquired catcher Kevan Smith from the Tampa Bay Rays and designated catcher Jeff Mathis for assignment. The Braves are hopeful that Mathis will clear waivers and choose to remain in the organization.

–Field Level Media

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