PITTSBURGH (AP) — In his short time with the Atlanta Braves, Austin Riley has liked the way his teammates fight for wins. Last night, he had a big role in their latest victory.
Riley and Josh Donaldson hit three-run home runs in consecutive innings, and the Braves rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-5.
“It just shows the drive of the team,” said the 22-year-old Riley, who made his major league debut May 15.. “You never know what’s going to happen. It shows a lot about this team.”
Freddie Freeman added a two-run homer, his 15th, in a three-run ninth inning that sealed the Braves’ third straight win.
Riley sent a slider from Kyle Crick (2-2) over the wall in right field for his ninth home run of the season in the seventh, turning a 5-3 deficit into a one-run lead. Donaldson pushed the lead to 9-5 in the eighth with a 439-foot shot to left-center field for his eighth.
“I just go out and try to execute my pitches,” Crick said regarding Riley’s homer. “Whatever happens, happens. In that particular 0-1 slider, I think I executed the pitch. Just a better piece of hitting.”
Before Donaldson’s eighth-inning home run, Freeman hit his 300th major-league double to right field.
“When you sit back and look at it, it just means I’ve been here a while,” Freeman said. “I’ve had some success and it’s pretty cool. It really is.”
Dan Winkler (2-1) had one strikeout in a scoreless sixth inning to get the win.
Three Pirates errors partially contributed to five Braves runs. The three on Riley’s home run came after left fielder Bryan Reynolds dropped a soft line drive from Nick Markakis with one out in the seventh.
Ronald Acuña Jr. came home for the opening run of the game after stealing third when catcher Elias Diaz threw the ball into left field in the first. Riley cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 5-3 in the sixth by scoring on a pinch-hit single from Matt Joyce after reaching on a gaffe by third baseman Kevin Newman.
Melky Cabrera had two hits and three RBIs, batting cleanup for Pittsburgh in place of Josh Bell. He hit a two-run homer to left, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead with two outs in the bottom of the first and then added an RBI single that made it 5-2 with two outs in the second.
Bell, the National League Player for the Month for May, was given the day off after playing the Pirates’ first 58 games this season. He is batting .332 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI, but was 1 for 10 with six strikeouts in his past two games.