Acuña hits long HR as Anderson, Braves shut down Cubs 5-0

ATLANTA (AP) — Ian Anderson allowed one hit in seven innings, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a long home run and the Atlanta Braves beat the skidding Chicago Cubs 5-0 on Tuesday night.

Anderson (2-0) won his second consecutive start, after throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 4-1 win at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday. He walked only one Cubs batter and struck out eight.

“His last two outings have been excellent,” Acuña said through a translator. “He’s a tremendous pitcher. I’m not surprised at all. He’s a superstar in my opinion.”

Chicago held out Javier Báez and Kris Bryant with injuries in its fourth consecutive loss.

A rookie making his 11th career start and fifth this season, Anderson lowered his ERA to 2.48. Cubs manager David Ross was impressed by the right-hander in his first game against Chicago.

“I thought the changeup was the difference-maker,” Ross said. “He threw it for strikes and it looked like a fastball out of his hands from my vantage point.”

A.J. Minter pitched a perfect eighth. Nico Hoerner’s one-out single off Jacob Webb in the ninth was Chicago’s second hit, but Webb struck out Willson Contreras and David Bote to end the game.

With one out in the fifth, Acuña pulled a belt-high fastball from Trevor Williams (2-2) for the longest of his eight homers this season. The drive traveled 481 feet and landed near the top of the seats in left-center field.

“It’s special. It’s a different sound,” Anderson said. “It’s something I’ve seen a few times now. He seems to thrive in a big moment and that speaks to the kind of player he is.”

Acuña tossed his bat and slapped his chest with both hands as he left the batter’s box for his jog around the bases. The homer was his first since April 15.

“Truthfully, I don’t concern myself too much with how far I hit it,” Acuña said.

Williams then walked Freddie Freeman, who scored on Ozzie Albies’ double off the right-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

Albies added another double off Brandon Workman leading off the eighth and scored on Dansby Swanson’s single. Hoerner’s error at shortstop on Austin Riley’s grounder set up pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval’s run-scoring single up the middle.

Workman walked Acuña to load the bases and also walked Freeman, forcing in the third run of the inning.

Jake Marisnick led off the third with a single for Chicago’s only hit off Anderson, but Marisnick was stranded at second base. The only other baserunner against Anderson came on Jason Heyward’s walk with one out in the fifth.

Williams allowed two runs and six hits in five innings. He had two walks and eight strikeouts, matching his career high.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: Bryant was rested due to right biceps soreness. Ross said Bryant has dealt with the issue for about a week and was available as a pinch-hitter. … Báez missed his second consecutive game with a sore hamstring. Ross acknowledged the injured list is a possibility for Báez “if it’s something that’s going to take multiple days.”

Braves: LHP Max Fried (strained hamstring) could return to the rotation next week. He will face hitters on Thursday, either in a simulated game or batting practice.

‘STUPID’ POWER

Braves manager Brian Snitker still is caught off-guard by Acuña’s homers.

“It just amazes me how that ball comes off that bat like that,” Snitker said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been around anybody I’ve witnessed that it comes off the bat like that. It’s just stupid.”

BOOST FOR BRAVES STAFF

Anderson, a 22-year-old right-hander, has provided an important boost for a struggling staff. The Braves began the night last in the National League with their 4.89 ERA.

“It feels good,” said Anderson, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2016. “Hopefully we can break out here and get going.”

LOOKING FOR RELIEF

Though only one of three runs given up by Workman was earned, the performance of the Cubs’ bullpen didn’t meet the standards sought by Ross.

“We definitely have to be better and keep the game closer … so we can have a rally late in games,” Ross said.

UP NEXT

Braves rookie RHP Huascar Ynoa (1-1, 3.68 ERA) looks for his second consecutive win when he faces Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 5.68) on Wednesday night. Ynoa gave up six runs in four innings of a 13-4 loss at Chicago on April 17 before earning his first win against Arizona last Friday.

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