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Ronald Acuña Jr., Mookie Betts shine as Braves take opener over Dodgers

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The pitcher who’s allowed the most home runs in the major leagues faced the team with the most home runs and on pace for the most in history, and the Dodgers were in an early hole thanks in large part to Ronald Acuña Jr.

Mookie Betts nearly pulled the Dodgers all the way back while completing one of the greatest individual months in team history, but the Braves held on to win 8-7, taking the opener of a weekend series on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Atlanta did the bulk of its damage in the second inning against Lance Lynn, who loaded the bases with one out then walked No. 9 hitter Nicky Lopez to force home the tying run. That brought up Acuña, who blasted a ball deep into the left field pavilion for a grand slam, and an incredible milestone.

Acuña’s home run was his 30th of the season. Coupled with his 62 stolen bases (he swiped second base in the eighth ninth inning against Brusdar Graterol), Acuña is the first 30/60 player in major league history, a remarkable feat in its own right but even more so since the calendar hasn’t yet reached September.

Lynn also allowed solo home runs to Austin Riley in the second inning and Michael Harris II in the fifth. Lynn couldn’t complete the fifth inning, pulled with two on and one out in the frame for his shortest start since joining the Dodgers.

Lynn has allowed 37 home runs this season, most in the majors. His seven runs allowed on Thursday matched his earned runs total for his first five starts with the Dodgers. The home runs will happen with Lynn, but he hasn’t been getting strikeouts lately. He fanned only one of his 23 batters faced on Thursday, and has just five strikeouts in his last three starts.

The Dodgers scratched across a run in the first against Braves starter Spencer Strider. It was naturally scored by Mookie Betts, who walked to open the inning.

Strider held the Dodgers in check until the fifth, when Jason Heyward singled and James Outman walked, and still remained on base with two outs. The lineup turned over, which meant Betts got to do more damage, hitting his 250th career home run.

Betts’ three-run shot to right field pulled the Dodgers within three runs, and capped off one of the great months in franchise history. In the seventh against reliever Joe Jimenez, Betts hit another home run, this time a solo shot to left field, pulling the Dodgers to within two.

In August, Betts hit a ridiculous .455/.516/.839 with 11 home runs, 30 RBI, and set Los Angeles Dodgers monthly records for hits (51) and runs scored (35). More on that later.

The Dodgers also got solo home runs by Michael Busch and Max Muncy, the latter the ninth straight game with an extra-base hit for Muncy, tying a team record. Muncy’s home run pulled the Dodgers to with a run.

The Dodgers put two runners on in both the eighth and ninth, but stranded them all. Pierce Johnson got Amed Rosario to end the eighth, and Rasiel Iglesias got Muncy to fly out then struck out Kiké Hernández to end the game in the ninth.

Round 1 goes to the Braves.

Thursday particulars

Home runs: Mookie Betts 2 (38), Michael Busch (2), Max Muncy (32); Ronald Acuña Jr. (30), Austin Riley (32), Michael Harris II (13)

WP — Spencer Strider (16-4): 6 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts

LP — Lance Lynn (10-10): 4⅓ IP, 7 hits, 7 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Sv — Rasiel Iglesias (27): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Up next

It’s a battle of southpaws who finished in the top three of the National League Cy Young Award voting last year on Friday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Julio Urías facing off against Max Fried.