Stellar defense from Atlanta propelled them past Milwaukee 5-4 on Friday night in the first game of a weekend series.
The Braves were clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning with one out and two men on base. Pinch hitter Jesus Aguliar smoked a liner down the third base side, which Johan Camargo managed to corral and start an inning-ending double play.
It was shortstop Darby Swanson’s turn for some defensive heroics in the bottom of the ninth. After a lead-off double by Eric Thames, the former first overall pick grabbed a grounder off the bat of Domingo Santana on the second base side. Instead of going to first like most, Swanson pivoted and threw to third, where Camargo applied the tag on a sliding Thames for the first out. Later, Swanson made a diving backhanded stab of a Manny Pina liner for the final out.
“The ball Aguliar hit was a great double play, and the [ball] Domingo hit, that’s a really nice play,” manager Craig Counsell said.
“The game came down, to me, [that] they made some excellent defensive plays at the end of the game.”
Milwaukee also struggled to get much going against Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz. He allowed just one run on four hits in his five innings of work.
“We had some action every inning with him out there,” Counsell said. “We just never got that last hit. Never got a man to third with less than two outs or anything like that. We had men on against him every inning. We were just one hit away.”
Jimmy Nelson (5-4) was tagged with the loss. He also went five innings, giving up four runs in addition to striking out eight. He pitched his final inning in an absolute downpour, and the Braves managed to get a pair of runs off of him there.
“I’m not a weather man. I stay out of that,” Counsell said when asked if he thought the game should be stopped. “The umpires, they’ve got all the information. It’s never an easy call when it’s raining like that.”
Milwaukee will look to bounce back Saturday afternoon with game No. 2 of the series getting underway at 3:10 p.m.