SAN DIEGO — — Spencer Strider and three relievers combined on a four-hitter and Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies and Sean Murphy each hit an impressive homer for the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, who beat the struggling San Diego Padres 8-1 Tuesday night for their eighth straight win.
It’s the longest active winning streak in baseball and the second-longest overall after Tampa Bay’s 13 straight wins to open the season.
The Padres have lost six of seven. They avoided their third straight shutout when Juan Soto‘s fielder’s choice in the eighth brought in Trent Grisham, who was aboard on a one-out double. That snapped a streak of 25 scoreless innings for San Diego, 12 shy of the franchise record set in 1971.
Strider (2-0) held the Padres hitless until Soto singled on his 90th pitch, with one out in the sixth, on a grounder that was deflected by second baseman Albies. Until then, Strider had allowed only three walks and a hit batter.
Strider was finished after six innings and 98 pitches. His eighth straight game of at least nine strikeouts is the longest active streak in the majors and it tied Hall of Famer John Smoltz’s franchise record.
“Anytime your name is next to John Smoltz, it’s an honor, it’s impressive,” Strider said. “It’s good. I think the best thing is to figure out how to get a little deeper in the game and work around some walks. The slider was a lot better today, so a lot of positives to take away. The primary mentality is really where it needed to be.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker said the right-hander “kind of got better” as the game went on. “His rhythm and everything, when he ended the game, he probably could have pitched all night, honestly.”
“It’s really special, and he’s still learning,” the manager said. “That stuff is so electric. When he gets in grooves like that, he’s trouble.”
Murphy, the catcher, said Strider’s talent “makes my life easy, because his stuff’s so good. We can go out there and throw pretty much whatever. As long as we execute it, I like our odds.”
Said Strider: “The walks and the hit by pitch were frustrating but you keep pounding the zone, you keep attacking, you follow your mentality, you get your outs quickly when you need them.”
Olson hit a three-run homer to right field off Reiss Knehr in the ninth, his sixth. Albies hit a three-run shot to center off Nabil Crismatt in the eighth, his fourth.
Murphy homered into the second deck in left field off Blake Snell (0-3) leading off the fourth. It was his fourth. Murphy also scored the Braves’ first run when he drew a leadoff walk and came around on Kevin Pillar‘s one-out double.
It was Murphy’s 11th straight extra-base hit, a franchise record. The streak ended when Murphy singled in the eighth.
“It’s cool,” said Murphy, who came over from Oakland in a three-team trade in December. “It’s a neat little record. But there’s a lot more season, a lot more games.”
Snell allowed two runs and three hits in five innings.
CEREMONIAL FIRST PITCH
The Padres had a 25th reunion of the 1998 team that beat the Braves in the NL Championship Series before being swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series. Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former catcher Carlos Hernandez, now a Spanish-language broadcaster for the team.
Padres: RHP Joe Musgrove will make his season debut Saturday night at Arizona. He’s been on the IL with a broken left big toe suffered in a spring training weight room accident. He had a setback when he injured his right shoulder during a rehab start with Triple-A El Paso, when he tried to barehand a comebacker, threw off-balance to first base and landed awkwardly.
Braves RHP Charlie Morton (2-1, 3.86 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday’s series finale against RHP Nick Martinez (0-1, 5.60).
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