ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta 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 a big celebration on the field.
All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman and the Braves will make their first postseason appearance since 2013 on Oct. 4 in the NL Division Series. It has not yet been determined who or where the youth-filled club will play in the best-of-five round.
Atlanta won its 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 Hernadez’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.
Phillies starter Jake Arrieta (10-10) lasted two innings, allowing four runs, four hits and three walks in the shortest outing of his nine-year career.
Atlanta led 2-0 in the first when Arrieta walked three of his first four batters, and Johan Camargo hit a two-run single.
Freeman hit a two-run single in the second to make it 4-0. Freeman, one of two current Braves who played on the 2013 division-winning team, is hitting .389 over his last 14 games.
Foltynewicz didn’t permit a hit until Odubel Herrera singled to begin the seventh. Franco singled with one out in the eighth.
The 26-year-old Foltynewicz has matured in his third full season, earning his first All-Star appearance and posting a 2.88 ERA that’s almost two full runs lower than his career average entering the year.
Atlanta was not projected to contend when the season began. It was coming off three straight 90-loss seasons, had no proven ace and was counting on several young position players to complement Freeman, the lone big bat in the lineup.
The team had been embarrassed off the field with former general manager John Coppolella banned from baseball in a signing scandal, but Atlanta moved into first place on May 2 and never trailed in the division race after a 9-1 win over Miami on Aug. 13.
Fueled by young budding stars like Acuna, second baseman Ozzie Albies and third baseman Johan Camargo, the Braves won the NL East with an 8½-game lead.
Philadelphia faltered down the stretch under first-year manager Gabe Kapler. After winning on Aug. 5, the Phillies were 1½ games ahead in the division and 15 games over .500. They have since gone 15-28.
Arrieta lasted 2 1/3 innings in a loss for the Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh in his previous shortest outing Sept. 4, 2017. The Phillies dropped to 14-16 in his starts.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (16-5, 2.44 ERA) has won one of his past four starts with a 5.01 ERA this month. Nola is 6-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 10 career starts against Atlanta.
Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-6, 3.01 ERA) has won one of his past nine starts and has a 3.02 ERA during that span.