Braves beat Phillies, but Ozzie Albies injured again

AP photo by Brynn Anderson / The Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies looks at his right hand after he slid in safely at second base during the fourth inning of Saturday night's home win against the Philadelphia Phillies. Albies broke his pinky finger a day after returning from an 81-game absence due to a broken left foot, and he will miss at least the rest of the regular season.

ATLANTA — Ronald Acuña Jr. was excited that the Atlanta Braves appeared to be at full strength as they attempt to win a fifth straight division title.

Not so fast.

Second baseman Ozzie Albies, one of Acuña's close friends on the team, broke the pinky finger on his right hand and will miss at least the rest of the regular season.

"Obviously it's great that we got the win — that's the most important thing — but it's really sad that Ozzie hurt himself again," Acuña said via a translator. "We need him. Like I said, it's really sad."

Acuña homered and drove in four runs off Aaron Nola and flashed some fancy defense in right field Saturday night, lifting the Braves to a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The victory was dampened because of the injury to Albies, who was hurt sliding head-first safely into second base in the fourth inning. Albies, a two-time All-Star, had just returned from an 81-game absence Friday because of a broken left foot.

"I hate it for him because my heart breaks for him," manager Brian Snitker said. "After everything he went through to get back here and then have that happen, God, it's horrible for him. He was having so much fun, being the old Oz, playing ball. What he loves to do."

Acuña went deep for the second straight game, making it 2-0 in the third inning and tagging Nola for a two-run double in the fourth. He ran forward and stretched out to strand the bases loaded by robbing Bryce Harper of extra bases in the fifth with Atlanta leading 4-0.

"Things going to back to normal. I hope to keep feeling good," said Acuña, who had spent time recently at designated hitter while dealing with lingering soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.

The Braves improved to 67-28 since June 1, best in the majors over that span. The reigning World Series champions remained one game behind the first-place New York Mets in the National League East Division standings. Atlanta has won seven straight home games.

The Phillies are 59-34 since June 1, the fifth-best winning percentage over that same span, but they lost their third straight after winning five in a row.

Nola (9-12) retired five of the first six batters he faced, the only blemish a one-out double by Travis d'Arnaud in the second inning, but he walked Albies to begin the third and paid for it when Acuña hit an opposite-field shot 427 feet to right-center. Nola escaped further damage when he got Michael Harris II to fly out to strand the bases loaded.

He ran into more trouble in the fourth. William Contreras and Albies began with singles and advanced on a flyout before Acuña made it 4-0 with a double down the left-field line. Albies stayed in the game to run the bases but left in the top of the fifth when Vaughn Grissom took over at second.

"I had guys on base in the third and fourth inning, and Ronald hit a fastball away opposite-field," Nola said. "He put a good swing on it. Those two innings there, I hurt myself letting the leadoff guy get on. Other than that, I felt pretty good."

Nola, making his 200th career start, set down his last 11 hitters, striking out the last three. He gave up four runs and seven hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings.

"It was a battle all night long," Philadelphia interim manager Rob Thomson said. "He kept going. Seven solid innings. He kept us in the game. Fought like hell, and I'm proud of him."

The Phillies scored to make it 4-1 in the fifth against Atlanta starter Jake Odorizzi when Bryson Stott walked, advanced to third on a single and crossed the plate on Matt Vierling's sacrifice fly, sliding head-first across the plate to narrowly beat Acuña's throw. Dylan Lee (4-1) gave up Kyle Schwarber's single and walked Alec Bohm to load the bases for Harper, but Acuña ended the threat with his nifty catch.

Philadelphia trimmed the lead to 4-2 in the seventh when Stott singled off Collin McHugh and scored from first on Vierling's double. The Phillies made it 4-3 in the eighth against Raisel Iglesias on Bryson Stott's RBI.

Braves closer Kenley Jansen faced the minimum in the ninth for his 34th save in 41 chances this year.

Odorizzi retired the first 10 batters he faced with five strikeouts. He gave up two hits and one run in 4 2/3 innings.

The Braves have won 10 of their past 13 games against Philadelphia at home, outscoring the Phillies 71-43. Overall the Braves are 31-17 against Philadelphia at Truist Park, which opened in 2017.

But they'll have to move forward without Albies.

"He means a lot," Acuña said. "He's a leader on this team. We need him. I'm just really sad for what happened."

The Braves announced a crowd of 42,542, their 37th sellout of the season.

They'll try to complete a sweep of the three-game series Sunday afternoon, when the scheduled starting pitchers are right-hander Spencer Strider (10-5, 2.72 ERA) for Atlanta and left-hander Bailey Falter (5-3, 3.80) for Philadelphia.