Swanson’s 3-run double helps Braves outlast Cardinals, 6-3

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ATLANTA — At the midpoint of the season, manager Brian Snitker says the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves have made an impressive recovery from a slow start.

Perhaps the most impressive resurgence belongs to Dansby Swanson.

Swanson hit a three-run double in a five-run second inning and the Braves held off the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 early Tuesday in a game delayed more than 2 1/2 hours by rain.

“Unbelievable,” said Snitker of Swanson’s continued hot hitting.

“It’s solid now,” the manager added. “It’s not a small sample size any longer.”

St. Louis loaded the bases for a couple of big hitters in the ninth, but Will Smith struck out Nolan Arenado and retired Albert Pujols on a grounder back to the mound for his fifth save.

Swanson’s bases-loaded double was the big hit against Dakota Hudson (6-5) in the second. Swanson also doubled and scored in the first.

Swanson was hitting only .236 on May 23. Since then, he has the most hits in the majors while raising his batting average to .304. His 37 hits in June were the most by a Braves shortstop in a month since Omar Infante’s 43 in August 2010.

“He deserves all his success and he’s going to keep doing it just because of the way he works,” said Braves right-hander Kyle Wright, who allowed no earned runs in four innings.

The surge has come as Swanson is approaching possible free agency while being represented by the same Excel Sports Management, including agent Casey Close, used by former Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Freeman signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after he was unable to reach agreement on a deal with Atlanta.

Swanson, 28, hit only .248 but set career highs with 27 homers and 88 RBIs while helping Atlanta win the World Series last season.

The Braves (47-34) went 21-6 in June after finishing May at 23-27.

“We’ve come a long way from two months ago, obviously,” Snitker said.

Matt Olson had two RBI singles for Atlanta, driving in Swanson both times.

There was a delay of 2 hours, 37 minutes, before the matchup of second-place teams resumed in the fifth inning at 11:29 p.m.

The Braves remained 3 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East. The Cardinals fell three games behind division-leading Milwaukee in the NL Central.

Atlanta right-hander Jesse Chavez (2-1) gave up homers to rookies Juan Yepez and Conner Capel in the sixth. Capel’s homer to center field was the first of his career.

Hudson allowed six runs on nine hits and three walks in four innings.

St. Louis right-hander Johan Oviedo left the game after a line drive hit by Michael Harris II struck Oviedo’s right hand in the sixth. The Cardinals said X-rays were negative.

After scoring one run in the first when Olson’s single drove in Swanson, the Braves sent nine batters to the plate in the second. Ronald Acuna Jr. drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk after Hudson hit Harris with a pitch.

With three runners on the move on a full-count pitch, Swanson’s double to left-center made it 5-0. Olson’s second run-scoring single pushed it to 6-0.

Eddie Rosario, who had laser surgery to correct blurred vision and a swollen right retina, came off the injured list and had one hit while starting in left field for Atlanta.

BLESSING IN DISGUISE

The long delay cost Wright an opportunity for his 10th win. Wright allowed one unearned run and three hits in four innings. The Braves led 6-1 before the delay.

“It’s a blessing in disguise, if you will, to have a little lighter workload and have less recovery time,” Wright said.

PROMOTION

Cardinals catcher Austin Romine was held without a hit after being promoted from Triple-A Memphis.

Romine, an 11-year veteran, began the season with the Angels before getting released and signing a minor league deal with the Cardinals on June 17. He replaced Ivan Herrera, who had only two hits in 18 at-bats and was optioned to Memphis.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: LHP Genesis Cabrera (undisclosed), placed on the injured list June 25, is expected to throw in the bullpen Tuesday. When asked if Cabrera will need a rehab assignment, manager Oliver Marmol said: “We’ll see what tomorrow looks like.” … Marmol said C Yadier Molina (right knee inflammation) is “working hard and feeling better.” … LHP Steven Matz (left shoulder impingement) will make his next rehab start with Triple-A Memphis on Thursday.

Braves: OF Adam Duvall, hit by a pitch on his left hand Saturday in Cincinnati, was held out. “Still going to be a couple days before he can swing,” Snitker said. … RHP Mike Soroka threw live batting practice Saturday at the Braves’ complex in North Port, Florida. Soroka, trying to return from his second Achilles tendon surgery, is moving closer to starting a minor league rehabilitation stint with the goal of returning in August.

UP NEXT

Braves RHP Ian Anderson (6-5, 5.31 ERA), who has allowed a combined 11 runs in losing his last two starts, will face Cardinals rookie RHP Andre Pallante (2-3, 2.10) on Tuesday night. Anderson will be making his first career start against St. Louis.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.