ARLINGTON, Texas — Three days after an exciting return to the majors for young star Ronald Acuña Jr. coincided with their first series win of the season, the Atlanta Braves found themselves in what has become a familiar but unwelcome position.
On the wrong end of a series result and trying to regroup, this time with a vital division test ahead.
Texas outfielder Adolis Garcia highlighted a three-hit, four-RBI performance with a bases-clearing triple in the third inning to help the Rangers beat the Braves 7-3 on Sunday.
Taylor Hearn (1-2) allowed two runs on four hits and three walks in five innings for his first victory since Sept. 12, and the Rangers scored all seven runs in the first three innings to go 3-4 in a homestand against last year's World Series teams — 2-1 versus reigning champion Atlanta and 1-3 versus the Houston Astros.
"It was nice to have a lead and keep it," said Texas third baseman Charlie Culberson, a Georgia native who was a Calhoun High School standout and played for the Braves from 2018 to 2020. "Nice to win a series."
The Rangers took advantage of wildness by Dallas native Kyle Muller (0-1), who was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and made his first MLB start of the season. Muller walked six batters and allowed four singles in 2 2/3 innings to go with two stolen bases allowed and a wild pitch. Before Garcia's big hit in the third, the Rangers scored earlier in the inning on a safety-squeeze bunt by Culberson.
"Nothing seemed to go his way," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. Still, he added, "I see improvement over last year."
Muller gave way to Jesse Chavez with two outs and the bases loaded in the third. Garcia lined a 2-2 sinker to the opposite field that got past driving right fielder Travis Demeritte and rolled to the wall to score three runs.
One of Muller's walks came on a check swing by Eli White in the second inning. When Braves pitching coach Rick Krantz visited the mound after White walked, he chatted with home plate umpire Cory Blaser, was ejected, and their conversation continued and became heated.
Muller didn't want to discuss the ball-strike calls.
"That's up to anyone's discretion," he said. "I'm not going to put that on anybody. I could have made better pitches and it wouldn't have even been an issue."
Hearn — from Royse City, about 50 miles east of Arlington — matched a season high with five innings and threw a season-high 89 pitches. Rangers starters have won consecutive starts for the first time this season.
Dansby Swanson went 2-for-4 with a double to the warning track in center field that was part of the Braves' two-run third inning and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Acuña was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and the two-time All-Star outfielder is just 2-for-13 since making his season debut Thursday night after missing the second half of last season due to a knee injury. The Braves won Thursday's game at Truist Park to take two of three from the Chicago Cubs and finally win a series, but Sunday's loss dropped Atlanta to 10-13.
The Braves have lost back-to-back games for the fifth time this season, and they will try to avoid losing three in a row for the first time when they start a four-game series Monday night against the host New York Mets. The Mets are atop the standings in the National League East Division, where Atlanta is the four-time reigning champion.