ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Atlanta Journal-Constitution photo by Curtis Compton via AP / Atlanta Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna hits a two-run homer against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning Thursday night in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — Marcell Ozuna homered in a four-run first inning, Huascar Ynoa pitched 5 1/3 strong innings and the Atlanta Braves went deep five times to beat the Chicago Cubs 10-0 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory.

Ynoa added the first home run of his MLB career in the fourth as Atlanta shut out the Cubs for the second straight night. Chicago has lost five in a row.

Freddie Freeman went 4-for-5 and hit his seventh homer of the season in the sixth.

The Braves' bats have woken up since the three-time reigning National League East Division champions scuffled for just one hit — a single by Freeman, the reigning NL MVP — while getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a doubleheader of seven-inning games Sunday in Atlanta.

"We knew it was going to turn," Freeman said. "We know what kind of offense we have. It's the same team we had from last year. We put up some pretty impressive numbers. It's only a matter of time. We've been hitting balls hard. They've just been getting caught."

In the first inning Thursday, Freeman singled before Ozuna's second homer of the year sailed 453 feet into the seats in left-center. Ozzie Albies followed with a double, and Austin Riley hit his third homer of 2021 over the left-field fence.

Atlanta went up 6-0 in the second when Ynoa and Ronald Acuña Jr. singled and scored on Freeman's double. Acuña scored on a headfirst slide after hesitating at third on the relay throw.

The first three homers came off Kyle Hendricks (1-3), who gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. Hendricks' season ERA rose by nearly two runs to 7.54. He has allowed 10 homers in 22 2/3 innings this year.

Hendricks has given up seven first-inning homers, the second most of any season in his career. He allowed 10 homers in the first inning of 2018 — in 33 starts. He surrendered a career-high four homers in the first against the Braves during a 13-4 loss on April 17 at Wrigley Field and is 0-3 with a 12.00 ERA with nine homers allowed in his past three starts against Atlanta.

"He's been encouraged and we've been encouraged by the bullpen work," Cubs manager David Ross said of Hendricks. "It's just not translating to the game right now. He'll go to work, as he always does. There's definitely frustration that he's going through right now because he's putting in a lot of work and still trying to figure that out."

Cubs starters have a 7.91 ERA in the team's 14 losses.

Ynoa (2-1) gave up four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. He pitched around Jake Marisnick's triple in the second and singles by Anthony Rizzo and Matt Duffy in the third. He left in the sixth after giving up a walk to Duffy and a single to Kris Bryant.

"As he's growing up and figuring some things out, I love that he threw some changeups tonight," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He had a strikeout on one of them. That's going to be huge. It's a cool thing when we bring a kid up and he starts to mature and figure things out. He's a young pitcher that's got some really good skills and a good arm."

The Braves led 8-0 in the fifth on Guillermo Heredia's RBI double. Albies homered in the sixth to make it 10-0.

Rizzo made his second career appearance on the mound, getting two outs in the seventh, including a strikeout of Freeman. Duffy, the starting third baseman, recorded the final out. Infielder Eric Sogard pitched the eighth.

On the injury front, Braves right-handed pitcher Mike Soroka (right shoulder inflammation) started playing catch Tuesday, but the club still has no timetable for him to resume full baseball activities. Soroka's 2020 season ended because of a torn Achilles' tendon, and he was mostly held out of spring training. His shoulder flared up earlier this month, and the second half of June appears to be the earliest he could return.

Meanwhile, left-handed starter Max Fried (right hamstring strain) will face hitters Thursday and is close to returning from the injured list, while right-handed reliever Chris Martin (right shoulder inflammation) will throw a couple of simulated games at the alternate training site in Gwinnett.

Also, the Braves announced Wednesday that they will allow 100% capacity at Truist Park beginning May 7 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Protective measures will stay in place that include wearing a mask unless actively eating or drinking.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT