Monday July 22nd, 2024 2:14PM

Riley, Ozuna lead hitting revival in Braves' 7-3 win over Rays, helping Sale improve to 7-0 at home

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Austin Riley drove in three runs with three hits, including a two-run homer, Marcell Ozuna added a three-run shot and the Atlanta Braves' long-suffering offense offered signs of recovery in a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

Chris Sale (9-2) improved to 7-0 at home. The left-hander allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings.

Braves leadoff hitter Michael Harris II left in the first inning with tightness in his left hamstring and is headed to the 10-day injured list, according to manager Brian Snitker.

“He said he felt something,” Snitker said about Harris, who will have imaging tests Saturday. “That usually is not good.”

Atlanta lost right fielder and reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injury May 26.

Riley had a run-scoring double in Atlanta's five-run first inning and added a two-run homer, only his fourth, in the second. He took a .220 batting average with only three homers into the game.

“I've been obviously working hard to get it right,” Riley said. “To see some results is nice.”

The Braves' seven runs, all in the first two innings, were their top total for a full game since an 8-3 win at Boston on June 4. It was a much-anticipated bright spot for a struggling lineup.

“Getting Austin involved is huge for us,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

The Braves' 3.55 runs per game since May 1 ranked as the second-lowest average in the majors, ahead of only the Chicago White Sox (3.25), in that span.

Atlanta's bats showed encouraging production in a 6-3 win at Baltimore on Thursday that ended a five-game losing streak. The Braves' 12 hits against Baltimore was their most since June 1. They added 12 against Rays right-hander Zack Littell (2-5) and four relievers.

Ozuna has been the lone consistent hitter in the otherwise disappointing lineup. He leads the NL with 19 homers and 60 RBI.

“I don't feel like he's getting enough love from the baseball world for what he is doing for us, almost on a nightly basis,” said Riley about Ozuna.

The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the first on Amed Rosario's RBI double but stranded runners on second and third when Sale struck out Jose Siri and Jonny DeLuca.

Littell allowed seven runs, six earned, on eight hits, including the homers by Ozuna and Riley, in two innings.

“Just didn't execute,” Littell said. “Just a bad night. Threw pitches in bad spots. Kind of went away from what I was doing well.”

Braves left fielder Jarred Kelenic made a leaping catch at the wall of DeLuca's drive off Dylan Lee in the ninth following a double by Siri. Richie Palacios, who had a run-scoring double in the seventh, drove in Siri with a single. Raisel Iglesias recorded the final out for his 18th save.

TRAINERS ROOM

Rays: DH/OF Harold Ramírez, who was designated for assignment last week, is a free agent after receiving his outright release. ... 2B José Caballero (illness) left the game in the third inning.

Braves: RHP Ian Anderson is moving closer to a rehab assignment as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in April 2023. Anderson has been throwing at the team's Florida complex and is moving closer to a rehab assignment. "He's been pretty good,” Snitker said. “It's just a matter of building him up now.”

UP NEXT

Former Rays RHP Charlie Morton (3-3, 4.12) will face his former team when the Braves are matched against Tampa Bay RHP Ryan Pepiot (4-3, 4.17) on Saturday. Morton pitched for the Rays in 2019 and 2020.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

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