ATLANTA — Ronald Acuña Jr. still sees plenty of room for improvement even as the Atlanta Braves keep winning.
"We're going to keep grinding and growing," the team's star right fielder said through a translator. "Baseball is all about highs and lows. It's just part of it, but I think we're going to keep doing our part and keep grinding and playing hard, and hopefully we can keep winning."
Dansby Swanson blooped a three-run single, Ozzie Albies added a grand slam in an eight-run seventh inning, and the Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-4 Saturday for their 10th consecutive win.
Acuña and Austin Riley also homered for the World Series champions, and now Atlanta is on its longest winning streak since 14 in a row from July 26 to Aug. 9, 2013. The Braves are four-time reigning champions in the National League East Division, but they were 10 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets before play on June 2; Atlanta had closed within 6 1/2 games by Saturday morning.
The Pirates have dropped a season-worst five straight games, striking out at least 10 times in each of those losses.
The Braves trailed 4-2 before batting around in the seventh against Duane Underwood Jr. (0-2) and Chris Stratton. Marcell Ozuna doubled, advanced on Adam Duvall's forceout and scored on Michael Harris II's single before Swanson's opposite-field single to right, which charged up the sellout crowd of 41,219 at Truist Park as Acuña scored from first.
"A play like that kind of shocks the defense because they don't expect it on a ball like that," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I know as soon as that ball was hit, he was in fourth gear."
The fifth grand slam of Albies' MLB career put the Braves ahead 10-4.
"It ended up getting kind of ugly really fast," said Pirates manager Derek Shelton, whose team must face the Braves again Sunday to wrap up a four-game series.
Atlanta reliever Jesse Chavez (1-1) allowed one hit in two scoreless innings.
Pittsburgh starter Zach Thompson, who had a 2.34 ERA over his prior seven starts, held the Braves to one hit and one walk after surrendering a pair of solo homers in the first. Thompson was charged with three hits and two runs in five innings.
After the Pirates jumped to a 2-0 lead on homers by Bryan Reynolds and Daniel Vogelbach in the first, the Braves tied it when Acuña and Riley went deep in the bottom half. Acuña hit his 25th career leadoff homer.
"I made one mistake, really, to Riley," Thompson said. "Acuña, you just tip your cap. It was a great piece of hitting, but I guess some reassurance that I was making really good pitches. I just needed to keep going out there and doing my thing."
Pittsburgh built a 4-2 lead on RBI doubles in the fifth by Reynolds and Ke'Bryan Hayes.
Braves starter Charlie Morton struggled in the first inning again, his 10.50 ERA worst among qualified starters. He has allowed 15 hits, four homers and eight walks in the first inning of 12 starts this year.
The 38-year-old Morton, who entered with a 6.86 ERA over his previous four starts, registered a season-high 12 strikeouts but surrendered five hits and four runs in six innings. The double-digit strikeout game was the 20th of his career and third of the season.
Morton has loved watching his team find different ways to win over the past 11 days.
"I knew it was going to happen," Morton said. "I knew they were going to do it because I've seen it before. I'm looking around the clubhouse, those guys are tight and they care about each other. There's just too much talent and too good a chemistry."