Ronald Acuña Jr. leaves Braves’ 8-1 win over Pirates with sore left knee


Ronald Acuña Jr. left the Atlanta Braves8-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning on Sunday with left knee soreness, and Chris Sale improved to 8-1 by allowing four hits over seven innings.

Acuña, the reigning NL MVP, led off with a double to right-center field off Martín Pérez. With Marcell Ozuna at the plate, Acuña started toward third on a stolen base attempt and his left knee gave way. Acuña remained down for several minutes while being treated, pointing at his left leg before walking off under his own power.

Wearing a brace on his knee in the clubhouse, Acuña said he would have an MRI on Sunday night and expects to be placed on the 10-day injured list.

“I got scared a lot because I felt the pain in the beginning,” Acuña said through a translator. “Hopefully, everything is going to go well.”

Jarred Kelenic went 3 for 4 in place of Acuña, a 26-year-old outfielder batting .250 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 49 games.

Sale struck out eight and allowed one run in another impressive outing for the 35-year-old left-hander, who has regained the form that earned him seven straight All-Star selections from 2012-18 before a string of injuries.

“Just doing what I need to do,” Sale said. “We all have our part on the team. Just posting every fifth day and trying to keep runs off the board. … Take every start, you want to win. Had a couple rough ones over the last couple days. You want to end on a good note heading back home.”

Matt Olson had three RBIs with a home run and a double to salvage the final game of the three-game series.

Pérez allowed one run, four hits and two walks in three innings before a left groin injury. The 33-year-old left-hander was checked after Kelenic beat him to first for a one-out single in the third. He then allowed an RBI double from Ozzie Albies that tied the score 1-1.

Pittsburgh also lost catcher Joey Bart, removed after the first inning and replaced by Yasmani Grandal because of a left thumb injury.

“Very, very strange,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of the three injuries in the first three innings. “The Acuña thing, I actually didn’t even see it happen. I watched the replay. … That was a little concerning for a guy that’s as talented (as he is) in our game, the way he went down. Then with Joey and Martín, yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”

Shelton said he expects to have more information on Pérez and Bart on Monday.

Grandal had put Pittsburgh ahead with an RBI single in the second.

Travis d’Arnaud doubled off Carmen Mlodzinski (0-2) in the fourth and scored on Orlando Arcia’s sacrifice fly. Olson extended the lead to 4-1 an inning later on a two-run double.

Leading off the eighth, Olson drove a fastball from Aroldis Chapman 420 feet into the Allegheny River beyond the Clemente Wall in right. Duvall homered 428 feet into the left-field bleachers off Chapman two batters later, giving the Braves a five-run cushion.

“Just kind of nice to see us break out and score a few runs,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Been kind of tough. It’s great to see Matt have that kind of day and Jarred swung the bat really well. That was really good.”

Reporting by The Associated Press.


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