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Braves teammates call out Ronald Acuna for lack of hustle in NLDS loss

By Alex Butler
Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, a run scored and a walk in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of a National League division series Thursday in Atlanta. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, a run scored and a walk in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of a National League division series Thursday in Atlanta. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. was criticized by his teammates for not hustling during the team's loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of a National League Divisional Series.

Acuna failed to run out a ball he hit to right field in the seventh inning of the 7-6 setback Thursday at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. The Braves held a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the frame when Acuna led off the inning by smacking a 2-2 John Brebbia slider off the right field wall. Acuna slowly hopped out of the box before picking up speed as he rounded first base when outfielder Dexter Fowler's throw came in.

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Ozzie Albies grounded out in the next at-bat before Freddie Freeman was hit by a pitch. Josh Donaldson ended the inning by grounding into a double play.

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"Yeah, it's frustrating," Freeman told reporters. "But I think you have that conversation once. It's kind of beating a dead horse after that if you keep having the same conversation over and over again. You have to know that was a mistake.

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"That can't happen in the playoffs. That can't happen in the regular season. Unfortunately it happened tonight."

Acuna was benched in August for not running out a single.

"There's a lot of baseball players who give their best effort all the time," Acuna said. "But [it] can kind of get away from them [sometimes]. We're human. We make errors."

The seventh inning could have been different if Acuna made it to second base for a leadoff double. He would have likely been pushed to third base on Albies' groundout.

"He probably scores in that inning if he's on second base," Albies said. "It's a big deal. He knows he needs to do better there."

Braves manager Brian Snitker also said Acuna should have made it to second base.

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"He should have been on second," Snitker said. "And we're kind of shorthanded to do anything about it right there. You hate to see that happen."

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Several of Acuna's Braves teammates approached him after the sequence, telling the star outfielder to run out of the box.

Acuna had a stellar night, with the exception of his seventh-inning mishap. He went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, a run scored and a walk out of the leadoff spot. Acuna also hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead on a first inning throwing error. Fowler tied the game with an RBI groundout in the top of the fifth frame. The Braves plated two more runs in the sixth inning for a 3-1 edge. The Cardinals tied the game with a two-run eighth inning, in which Paul Goldschmidt hit a leadoff solo homer before Matt Carpenter added an RBI single for St. Louis' third run.

Marcell Ozuna gave St. Louis a 5-3 lead with a two-run double in the ninth inning, and Kolten Wong followed with another two-run double in the same frame.

Billy Hamilton took a walk to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning for Atlanta and Acuna cut the Cardinals' lead to two runs with a homer in the next at-bat. Freeman hit a solo shot two at-bats later before Cardinals reliever Carlos Martinez retired the final two batters of the game to secure the victory.

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Freeman went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored for Atlanta. Wong and Ozuna each went 2 for 4 with two RBIs for the Cardinals.

The Braves host the Cardinals in Game 2 at 4:37 p.m. EDT Friday.

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