MIAMI (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. led the game with a deep double and later single and stole a base as the Atlanta Braves tackled the Miami Marlins Friday night in his first game at the stadium where he had played a season 5-3 defeated. End of knee injury last year.
Marcell Ozuna hit a homer for the third straight game while Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud also went deep for the Braves.
Jorge Soler hit his eighth homer for Miami. It was his first game against Atlanta since he was World Series MVP for the champion Braves last season.
Acuña did not play in the World Series after tearing his knee in a game in Miami on July 10. Due to the synthetic surface at LoanDepot Park, the star outfielder is said to be the designated hitter during the weekend series.
“We’re going to keep him off this turf,” said Atlanta coach Brian Snitker. “If this had been a natural grass (surface) he would be playing outfield.”
Despite being locked out on defense on the series, Acuña tormented the Marlins with his early double.
“It’s my game, go out and have fun,” Acuña said in Spanish. “Also, I have to be patient and take things one step at a time.”
Charlie Morton (3-3) pitched 5 1/3 innings with three runs. He allowed three runs, seven hits, walked one and hit five.
Collin McHugh took the last two outs of the sixth and Spencer Strider followed with a scoreless seventh. AJ Minter hit three outs around Garrett Cooper’s eighth-round double and Will Smith finished with a scoreless ninth for his second save.
“I felt like I shot well through the sixth inning,” Morton said. “It’s tough because I thought I could have at least finished that inning. This was frustrating but the bullpen came in and shut it down. Good job done.”
Atlanta quickly beat Trevor Rogers (2-5) in the first. Ozzie Albies hit a single that scored Acuña, and Ozuna followed with a two-run shot.
“The work you put in every day and the confidence in your approach to the plate,” Ozuna said in Spanish of his recent burst of energy.
Swanson made it 4-0 when he led the second with his fifth homer.
The Marlins closed the gap on Bryan De La Cruz’s RBI single in the bottom half before d’Arnaud connected Rogers for a solo homer in the third.
Soler’s two-run shot on Morton in the sixth put the Marlins 5-3.
Miami finished 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“You want to bring them over,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “Sometimes you’ll bring a bunch over. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to get some – you might get one or two.”
Rogers lasted four innings. The left-hander allowed five runs, eight hits, walked two and hit five. He is without a win in five career decisions against Atlanta.
“I missed the location and they had a really good game plan,” said Rogers. “I didn’t give our team a chance at all today. That’s on me.”
Braves: Morton said he was feeling good after intercepting a shot in the calf from Jesús Aguilar’s tough grounder in the third game.
Marlins: INF Joey Wendle (right hamstring) does sprints and baseball activities. … LHP Richard Bleier (injury unknown) pitched in a bullpen session.
Atlanta RHP Kyle Wright (3-2, 2.79) starts Saturday’s middle game against Miami RHP Elieser Hernández (2-3, 6.15).
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