Ozuna’s 2-run homer in 8th powers Braves past Dodgers 5-3
Published 11:45 pm Saturday, June 25, 2022
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA — Marcell Ozuna says he’s beginning to see evidence of his work to regain his timing at the plate after missing most of last season.
The Braves outfielder backed up that claim with his biggest hit of the season.
Ozuna hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and Atlanta recovered after blowing a three-run lead to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Saturday night.
Travis d’Arnaud led off the seventh with a double to left field off Brusdar Graterol (2-3). Ozuna followed with his 14th homer to center field.
“It felt amazing,” said Ozuna, who is hitting only .227 but has hits in 29 of his last 37 games. “… I lost a full season last year, so it’s hard to get back in the timing.”
Ozuna was limited to 48 games in 2021 due to an injury and his May 29 arrest on charges of aggravated assault by strangulation and battery. In November, MLB suspended the 31-year-old Ozuna retroactively for 20 games under its domestic violence policy, allowing him to return for the start of this season.
“He’s had some big hits lately,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Ozuna. “He’s still fighting to get himself to where he wants to be, but in between he’s had some big hits for us.”
Graterol faltered in his first opportunity to show he can take a more important role in the back of the Dodgers’ bullpen after Daniel Hudson’s season-ending knee injury was confirmed before the game.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t identify who he expects to fill in for Hudson, but Graterol was considered a top candidate.
“Obviously the guys that are here are going to have an opportunity,” Roberts said. “I’m not going to say who it is, but they’re going to have opportunities.”
Dodgers designated hitter Will Smith tied the game at 3 with a homer to left field off A.J. Minter (4-1) to open the eighth.
Freddie Freeman had one hit with three strikeouts — including a bases-loaded whiff to end the seventh — in the second game of his much-anticipated return to Atlanta. The 2020 NL MVP with the Braves appeared more relaxed after his emotional return Friday when he received his 2021 World Series championship ring in a pregame ceremony.
Braves left-hander Max Fried allowed six hits with nine strikeouts and one walk in 6 2/3 innings. Former Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen struck out the side in the ninth, including throwing a game-ending fastball past Trea Turner, for his 19th save.
Cody Bellinger had a run-scoring single off Fried as the Dodgers scored two runs in the seventh.
Braves reliever Will Smith gave up Austin Barnes’ run-scoring single to right, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 3-2 before walking Turner to load the bases. Smith struck out Freeman to end the inning in the rematch of the past two NL championship series.
Mitch White, recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City, allowed three runs and five hits with two walks in four-plus innings. White was pulled after giving singles to Ronald Acuña Jr. and Swanson to open the fourth. Austin Riley’s double to center field off Alex Vesia drove in Acuña.
White was added to the rotation after left-hander Andrew Heaney was placed on the 10-day injured list on Friday with left shoulder inflammation.
Braves rookie Michael Harris II led off the third with a double which Dodgers right fielder Trayce Thompson misplayed. Thompson took a step in before stopping, unable to recover as the liner sailed over his head.
One out later, Swanson hit a first-pitch slider 413 feet over the center field fence for a 2-0 lead. It was Swanson’s seventh homer of June and 13th overall. Swanson has hits in 18 of his last 19 games.
WAITING ON A FOURTH UMPIRE
A three-man crew of umpires started the game before Alex MacKay, a late fill-in, arrived in the fourth inning. MacKay was summoned when Cory Blaser could not work the game for medical reasons.
Dodgers: Hudson’s torn left anterior cruciate ligament was confirmed, ending his season. Hudson’s recovery is expected to take six to nine months. … Alberto was activated from the paternity list and OF Stefen Romero was designated for assignment as a roster space was cleared for White.
Braves: Acuña will be checked after fouling a ball off his left foot in the third inning. Guillermo Heredia was a late-game defensive replacement for Acuña. Snitker said Acuña’s foot was “really sore. We’ll see.” … OF Eddie Rosario (blurred vision, swelling in right retina) had one hit with two strikeouts in his first rehab assignment game with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Dodgers RHP Tony Gonsolin (9-0, 1.58) will put his unbeaten record on the line when he faces Braves rookie RHP Spencer Strider (3-2, 3.40) in Sunday night’s final game of the weekend series.
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