NEW YORK -- Hours before the Atlanta Braves took the field at Yankee Stadium, as an air conditioning vent blew cold air inside a sweltering third base dugout, manager Brian Snitker admitted he did not think the youth would come together so quickly this season.
Snitker thought the Braves would do well but not necessarily possess the best record in the National League.
About 6 1/2 hours later, the Braves wrapped up another win due to some youthful contributions and on Tuesday they can become the first team in the National League to reach 50 victories when they continue a three-game series with the New York Yankees.
The Braves are on a four-game winning streak and 31-19 against opponents with winning records after Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning off David Robertson to give Atlanta a 5-3 victory.
"We're ahead of where we thought we'd be," Snitker said before the Braves upped the NL's best record to 49-34. "Going into the season, I don't think we expected to be sitting here on July 2 in first place.
"We all felt we were going to do really good. In all honesty with where we were with our club and are, we've kind of surpassed what everybody thought the first of March where we'd be. We're a probably a better team than what we thought we were."
Among the youthful players is Acuna, who at 20 years, 196 days is the youngest Atlanta rookie to hit a game-winning homer in extra innings since Andruw Jones (20 years, three days) did it April 26, 1997, against the San Diego Padres.
Acuna is batting .274 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 33 games. He also owns six RBIs in extra innings, second most behind 21-year-old Ozzie Albies. The Braves also are 9-3 when he drives in a run.
"I'm never really nervous in those situations, my adrenaline kind of helps out," Acuna said through an interpreter before adding he could never remember feeling nervous on the field."
The Yankees (54-28) are 4-6 in their last 10 games after going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and striking out 12 times.
"We want to put them out there more often than not," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "More often than not we'll come through in those situations."
Aaron Judge hit his 23rd homer and walked twice but also couldn't complete the leaping catch on Acuna's homer.
"I felt it hit my glove," Judge said. "It didn't go in. They got two runs. It was a tough play."
Judge and the Yankees have only lost a series three times since April 19 and are 45-19 in their last 64 games. They will attempt to do so after extensive use of their bullpen trying to win Monday's game.
Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder combined for seven innings and threw 114 pitches.
"Obviously we went through a lot of guys tonight, threw a lot of pitches," Boone said. "It'll be a little bit of a challenge tomorrow, but we'll work through it."
Tuesday's pitching matchup will feature young pitchers experiencing differing degrees of success of late as Sean Newcomb starts for Atlanta against Domingo German.
After going 4-9 in 18 starts last season, he is 8-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 16 starts in his second campaign.
Newcomb is coming off two straight no-decisions in home starts against the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds. He has allowed three runs or less in all but two starts and allowed one run or less in eight outings, including six scoreless starts.
"He's a lot more competitive than I was ever led to believe," said Snitker while noting how Newcomb's changeup has developed into an effective pitch. "I didn't know him a lot. I hadn't seen him a lot in the minor leagues and once he came here, he's a quiet guy, he doesn't show a lot of emotion on the mound but he's very competitive."
German will make his 10th start and it might be viewed as an audition to stay in the rotation until Masahiro Tanaka returns from a hamstring injury. German will pitch one day before Tanaka makes a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
German is 2-3 with a 5.88 ERA in nine starts and has shown some flashes but also struggled. He followed up a three-start stretch where he fanned 28 in 19 innings against the New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, and Seattle Mariners by struggling immensely in a 7-6 loss at Tampa Bay on June 24.
In his last start, German tied a career worst by allowing six runs on a career-worst nine hits in three-plus innings. He threw 64 pitches to 19 hitters and was pushed back, though he pitched a scoreless relief inning Wednesday at Philadelphia.
German's only previous start against a National League team occurred June 9, when he allowed three runs on five hits in six innings in a 4-3 win at the Mets.