MILWAUKEE (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. returned to action and wasted no time showing he’s feeling just fine.
Back atop the Atlanta lineup as the designated hitter Tuesday night after missing five games with a sore groin, Acuña opened the game by beating out an infield hit and later stole a base in the Braves’ 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Early Brewers game Wednesday, with Bob Uecker on the call. Pregame for Atlanta at Milwaukee begins at 11:35 a.m. Tune in on 96.7 FM / 580 AM as the ‘Crew look to take 2 of 3 from the Braves.
“I do really feel good,” Acuña said through a translator. “I do feel healthy.”
Tucker Davidson pitched five shutout innings to earn his first career win and Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run homer, but Acuña’s hustle plays provided the Braves with their biggest reason for encouragement.
The Braves have been cautious with Acuña as he comes back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that caused him to miss the second half of the 2021 season. His performance Tuesday suggested he’s ready to do more.
“He had some really good at-bats,” manager Brian Snitker said. “That was good to see with a little layoff. Everything checked out really well.”
Acuña went 1 for 3 with two walks and a run scored. In the eighth inning, he stole a base for the sixth time in 11 games and advanced from second to third on a relatively shallow fly to center.
“That’s just the style that I play,” Acuña said. “That’s just the way I play baseball.”
Acuña was at the plate when the Braves ended a string of 20 straight scoreless innings. After Adam Duvall and Dansby Swanson started a fifth-inning rally with consecutive one-out singles, Acuña hit a ball that went off the glove of Brewers third baseman Mike Brosseau and headed into left field.
That allowed Duvall to score the Braves’ first run since the fourth inning of a 7-3, 11-inning loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday. The Brewers hadn’t allowed a run since the third inning of a 7-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Ozuna extended the lead to 3-0 in the eighth with his sixth homer of the season, a 421-foot shot to left off Brad Boxberger.
That was more than enough for Davidson, who shut down the Brewers in his five-inning stint after getting called up from Triple-A Gwinnett earlier in the day. He arrived in Milwaukee about 11 a.m. and struck out three while allowing three hits and three walks.
“I was supposed to start in Gwinnett today,” Davidson said. “So I just kind of (thought), ‘Hey, it’s your day. Just go and continue to be on your routine.’”
The Brewers loaded the bases in the eighth on three walks before Lorenzo Cain hit a two-out grounder to the left side of the infield. Braves third baseman Austin Riley made a nice play going to his left to field the ball before throwing to first baseman Matt Olson, who caught it on a bounce.
Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in the ninth for his ninth save in as many opportunities.
Brewers starter Adrian Houser (3-4) allowed just one unearned run in six innings while striking out six and walking two, but he didn’t get any run support. The Brewers left 10 men on base and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
“We had chances,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We didn’t cash in on those chances.”
MILWAUKEE PITCHER SUSPENDED
Brewers RHP J.C. Mejía was suspended for 80 games following a positive test for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol, a synthetic steroid derived from testosterone. The Brewers replaced him by calling up RHP Trevor Kelley from Triple-A Nashville.
Braves: LHP Tyler Matzek went on the injured list, retroactive to May 14, with left shoulder inflammation. “He’ll be shut down for a couple of weeks, and then we’ll re-evaluate him and see where he’s at,” Snitker said.
Brewers: SS Willy Adames felt better Tuesday than he did Monday, raising hope that he could avoid a trip to the injured list as he recovers from a sprained left ankle. Counsell said Adames isn’t expected to play Wednesday or in Friday’s series opener against Washington. “I just want to feel stronger and get to a position where I know I can give my best out there and not just play to be playing,” Adames said. … OF Andrew McCutchen rejoined the team after a bout with COVID-19 that caused him to spend a week in an Atlanta hotel room. He remained out of the lineup.
The three-game series concludes Wednesday afternoon with LHP Max Fried (4-2, 3.14 ERA) starting for the Braves against RHP Corbin Burnes (1-2, 1.77).
TOP PHOTO: Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. slides safely back to first on a pick off attempt as Milwaukee Brewers’ Rowdy Tellez takes the throw during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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