ATLANTA (AP)Adam Duvall and William Contreras homered to help Charlie Morton win for the first time in five starts as the Atlanta Braves cranked up their bats in a 9-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Matt Olson hit a two-run double during a four-run second inning. Duvall homered in the third off starter Aaron Ashby, and Contreras added a three-run drive in the fifth off Jandel Gustave to pad the lead.
The Braves were winless over Morton’s previous four starts, a stretch that included a 7.85 ERA. But the 38-year-old right-hander pitched around three walks and allowed just two hits with five strikeouts in five scoreless innings.
”Today I think I saw some things from the hitters that made me feel like I’m probably not that far off, especially pretty early,” said Morton (2-3). ”I see things differently from hitters and their reactions to pitches that I’m throwing. Whether it’s a fastball right down the middle that they’re not quite turning on or it’s the four-seamer up that they’re swinging under or it’s the curveball that they’re chasing. I will read swings and I will read hitters, but that’s not my game.
”I think today, especially early, I saw my stuff playing where it should be playing in the (strike) zone,” he said.
The defending World Series champions won just their second series of the season in nine tries to improve to 14-16. The Brewers have lost two straight but still lead the NL Central with a 19-10 record.
”We hit some near-misses with men on base,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
After splitting a four-game series in New York against the NL East-leading Mets and then winning two of three against Milwaukee, Braves manager Brian Snitker likes where his team stands.
”Absolutely it shows the team we’re capable of and the team that we are,” Snitker said. ”We’re still trying to get our foothold. You’d love to get everything going and get on a run, but I think the split in New York and winning a series against a first-place team shows we’re headed in the right direction.”
Duvall hit his second homer of the year, an opposite-field solo shot in the third to make it 5-0. Of Atlanta’s 34 homers this year, 27 have been solo shots. Contreras made it 9-0 by connecting to left field with a 436-foot drive that left his bat at 113 mph.
The Braves went up 6-0 in the fourth when Dansby Swanson scored on a wild pitch from Ashby (0-3). He was charged with six hits, six runs and four walks in four innings.
”I just didn’t think he threw enough strikes today,” Counsell said. ”Just enough easy pitches for the other team.”
Morton escaped trouble with the bases loaded in the second when Lorenzo Cain struck out and Jace Peterson flied out.
The Braves took a 4-0 lead in the second on Contreras’ bases-loaded walk, Ronald Acuna Jr.’s RBI grounder and Olson’s double. Olson’s bloop hit landed in shallow left field, just out of the reach of shortstop Willy Adames, and allowed Acuna to score from first.
”Any time you can bust out and get a good lead, that’s when you can play aggressive, that’s when you can kind of get after it a little bit,” Duvall said. ”That was huge.”
Milwaukee scored twice in the eighth off Tyler Matzek. Pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau had a run-scoring single, and another run scored on a double-play grounder.
Acuna reached on an infield single in the first, extending his on-base streak to an NL-best 23 games dating to June 25. Boston’s J.D. Martinez has the majors’ longest current streak at 27 games. Acuna doubled in the fifth and finished 2 for 4 with a stolen base.
Swanson got off to a rough start to the season but after going 2 for 3 he has hit .340 with six extra-base hits and eight RBIs in his last 16 games. He’s now batting .242.
Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez dropped to the ground after Swanson’s foul ball glanced off his left arm in the fourth. He stayed in the game after being tended to by a trainer.
Brewers: RHP Brandon Woodruff (3-1, 5.18 ERA) makes his sixth start of the season Monday night as Milwaukee opens a three-game series at Cincinnati.
Braves: After an off day, RHP Kyle Wright (3-1, 1.74) will pitch opposite RHP Garrett Whitlock (1-1, 1.25) as Boston visits Truist Park to begin a two-game series Tuesday.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports