By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Spencer Strider wore a Ronald Acuña Jr. 30-60 T-shirt and said: “He’s going to negate the shirt pretty quickly.”
New T-shirts with 40-70 may be needed soon.
Acuña homered twice on his bobblehead night and stole his 67th base, leaving him one long ball shy of becoming the majors’ first 40-60 player, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-3 on Tuesday night to stop a four-game losing streak.
“I just thank God I’ve been able to stay healthy,” Acuña said through a translator. “I feel like if I am healthy I am able to do the things I’ve done.”
Strider (18-5) increased his major league-leading wins total and struck out 11 to increase his big league-high total 270 with his 17th career double-digit strikeout game, his 11th this season.
Acuña homered on the first pitch of the game from Cristopher Sánchez (2-5) and had another solo homer off Yunior Marte in the sixth.
“The ability to go out and get the lead the first pitch of the game is unbelievable,” Strider said. “The guy is the most talented player on the planet.”
Acuña has a Braves record 33 leadoff homers, including seven this season — three on the first pitch. Of his 205 hits this season, 51 have come in the first inning.
No player has ever had 40 homers and 60 steals in a season, much less 40 homers and 70 stolen bases. Fans chanted “MVP! MVP!” after Acuña singled off Michael Lorenzen in the fifth and stole second.
“He’s just putting together a special, special year,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
NL East champion Atlanta avoided what would have been its first five-game skid since September, 2017. Marcell Ozuna drove in three runs with three hits, including a two-run double in the fifth, as the Braves outhit the Phillies 13-4.
Philadelphia, while second in the NL East, leads the NL wild card race.
Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer, his 19th, off Strider in the sixth.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said before the game he was curious to see how Braves hitters adjusted to seeing Sánchez for the second time in a week.
“Obviously, it’s a great lineup and they do make adjustments,” Thomson said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
The first indication came quickly on Acuña’s first-pitch homer.
Sánchez (2-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in four innings.
Kevin Pillar hit a two-run single in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Ozuna hit a two-run double in a four-run fifth.
MANUEL SENDS THANKS
Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who is recovering from a stroke he sustained Saturday, expressed thanks on Tuesday to fans for their support. Manuel posted his appreciation on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I want to thank all the people who are pulling for me,” Manuel wrote. “I am touched that you are showing me love.” The 79-year-old had a blood clot removed on Saturday.
NO ANSWER FOR STRIDER
Acuña said he’s glad he doesn’t have to face Strider.
“I faced him in spring training,” Acuña said when asked what his approach would be against the right-hander. “He struck me out four times. I don’t have any approach.”
Braves RHP Jesse Chavez (shin) was activated from the 60-day injured list while RHP Nick Anderson (right shoulder strain) began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett. The news provides hope either or both could be part of the postseason bullpen. Chavez, who had been on the IL since June 14, returned to the Atlanta bullpen following three scoreless outings at Gwinnett. … LHP Max Fried, who was held back to avoid developing a finger blister, is scheduled to start Thursday’s opener of a series at Washington. … LHP Lucas Luetge was designated for assignment. … RHPs Daysbel Hernández (right forearm inflammation) and Collin McHugh (right shoulder inflammation) also began rehab assignments at Gwinnett.
Braves RHP Bryce Elder (12-4, 3.50) will face RHP Aaron Nola (12-9, 4.62) on Wednesday as the three-game series ends.