LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. homered for the third straight night at Dodger Stadium and Orlando Arcia hit a three-run shot in the 10th inning that sent the streaking Atlanta Braves to a 4-2 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday.
Acuña’s 454-foot drive to center field came off his bat like a rocket at an astounding 121.2 mph — the hardest-hit ball in the majors this year.
“I never imagined that was going to be the exit velocity on it,” Acuña said through a translator. “But yeah, I hit it hard.”
Bryce Elder pitched six effective innings and the Braves (90-45) won their sixth consecutive game, becoming the first major league club to reach 90 wins this season.
Atlanta will try for a four-game sweep Sunday in this much-anticipated matchup between the top two teams in the National League.
Married north of Los Angeles before Thursday’s game, Acuña once again outshined Dodgers star Mookie Betts in their chase for NL MVP.
With one out in the third inning, Acuña launched a jaw-dropping drive that gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead. It was the 32nd homer this year and third of the series (including a grand slam) for Acuña, the first player in big league history with 30 home runs and 60 stolen bases in a season.
It was also the third-hardest-hit homer and sixth-hardest-hit ball in the majors since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
His teammates joked with him in the dugout about his power.
“They asked if that was all I had, and I said, ‘I think so,’” Acuña said.
Los Angeles tied it 1-all in the bottom half when Austin Barnes doubled on his bobblehead night and scored on Will Smith’s double-play grounder.
That’s how it stayed until the 10th, when Sean Murphy drew a two-out walk from Alex Vesia (0-5) to put two runners on. Arcia drove the next pitch to left-center to give Atlanta a 4-1 lead.
“I feel I always go out here and every at-bat, focus. And in those situations, do everything I can to help the team win,” Arcia said through a translator.
When asked what he thought of Acuña’s homer, no translation was needed.
“Unbelievable,” Arcia said.
Raisel Iglesias allowed Max Muncy’s sacrifice fly in the bottom half before finishing for his 28th save. Michael Tonkin (6-2) worked a hitless inning for the win.
“You can’t take too much out of it,” Muncy said. “If we face them in the postseason it’s going to be completely different games. I think we’ve proven that in the past several times against teams we’ve played. It’s an exciting series right now. I know it’s a lot of fun for people to watch it, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to be the same if it’s in the playoffs.”
Betts went 0 for 4 with a walk and scored once. He struck out three times, including with the bases loaded in the fourth when he went down looking.
Los Angeles starter Emmet Sheehan permitted one run in four innings.
Elder worked around four walks and struck out four for the Braves, who have won 20 of 25 overall. The NL East leaders have a seven-game lead over the NL West-leading Dodgers (83-52) for the best record in the National League.
“I thought my stuff was better than it had been the past couple weeks,” Elder said. “Got a little wild a bit but was able to work out of some stuff. Few walks there I’d like to limit. But I gave us a chance. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
90 AND THRIVING
The Braves have won at least 90 games in four of the past five full seasons, not counting the 60-game regular season shortened by the pandemic in 2020.
“It’s how we continue to play really good baseball all year,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s been a solid year. Our mission is not over. I’m proud of the guys for how they play every day and how they prepare and the consistency in their work and the energy and everything they do. Haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
Dodgers: DH J.D. Martinez (left groin tightness) took batting practice. He will head to Arizona for a day of work, then will join Triple-A Oklahoma City in Texas on a rehab assignment. He’s expected to return to the Dodgers next weekend in Washington. … RHP Michael Grove (right lat tightness) will go to Triple-A Oklahoma City and then join the Dodgers next weekend as well. … RHP Joe Kelly (right forearm inflammation) is expected to go on a rehab assignment soon before rejoining the Dodgers.
Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (14-10, 3.29 ERA) won four of his five starts in August with a 1.91 ERA during that span. He allowed just one earned run in a six-inning win against Colorado on Tuesday.
Dodgers: RHP Bobby Miller (8-3, 4.00) has allowed four earned runs in back-to-back starts. The rookie had given up a combined two earned runs in his previous three starts over 15 2/3 innings.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb