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Tuesday, October 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  MLB

Atlanta Braves clinch first N.L. East crown since 2013

Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and catcher Kurt Suzuki celebrate after defeating Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in a baseball game to clinch the National League East Division, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and catcher Kurt Suzuki celebrate after defeating Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in a baseball game to clinch the National League East Division, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
By George Henry Associated Press

ATLANTA – Freddie Freeman stood soaked in champagne with music blaring and his teammates jamming in celebration.

This was just how the longtime star first baseman envisioned it when the Atlanta Braves began spring training seven months ago.

“You could tell after the first week of workouts that we had the talent to do something special,” Freeman said. “Obviously we still needed to put it together. But this is what happens. You win the division after three straight 90-loss seasons.”

The Braves capped a most surprising season by clinching their first NL East crown since 2013, with Mike Foltynewicz taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning Saturday in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

A year after going 70-92, manager Brian Snitker and his Baby Braves surged back into the playoffs. A loud crowd at SunTrust Park joined the party when rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. caught a flyball for the final out, setting off another round of the Tomahawk Chop and a big celebration on the field.

“When we started this series, we knew it was within our grasp,” Snitker said. “We knew we couldn’t lose track of today. I know I’m redundant saying that all the time, but I felt we just needed to stay current and worry about today’s game. These guys have done an unbelievable job of that this year.”

The Braves will make their first postseason appearance since 2013 on Oct. 4 in the N.L. Division Series. Atlanta won its 18th division title, tying the New York Yankees for the most in the majors since division play began in 1969.

The Braves won their fourth straight game and beat second-place Philadelphia for the third day in a row. The Phillies also startled a lot of fans this year and led the division in early August, but faded while going 6-14 this month.

Foltynewicz (12-10) tipped his cap to a standing ovation as he left with runners on first and second in the eighth with a 4-0 lead.

Jesse Biddle relieved, walked the first batter he faced and gave up two runs on Cesar Hernandez’s bases-loaded single. Brad Brach allowed Rhys Hoskins’ RBI single before Jonny Venters escaped the jam on a lineout and a grounder.

Kurt Suzuki added an RBI single to make it 5-3 in the eighth off Seranthony Dominguez, the seventh pitcher used by Philadelphia.

Arodys Vizcaino, in his first save situation since June 17, closed out the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances, getting Wilson Ramos to ground out, striking out Roman Quinn and retiring Maikel Franco on a flyball to Acuna in left.

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