Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) celebrates with Ozzie Albies (1) after hitting a solo-home run in the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Miami Marlins Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Acuna hits a pair of leadoff homers, Braves sweep Marlins

August 13, 2018 - 10:41 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuna Jr. pulled off one of the rarest feats in baseball history, hitting leadoff homers in both games of a doubleheader to lead the first-place Atlanta Braves to a sweep of the Miami Marlins on Monday.

The 20-year-old rookie hit an opposite-field drive into the Braves' bullpen in Game 1 , powering Atlanta to a 9-1 victory. Haitian-American Touki Toussaint pitched six strong innings to claim the win in his major league debut.

It was more of the same from Acuna in the nightcap. He sent a towering shot into the seats in left-center , sparking the Braves to a 6-1 win behind another strong outing on the mound from Mike Foltynewicz.

Acuna appeared to be only the fourth player in baseball history to hit a pair of leadoff homers in a doubleheader. Two others, Rickey Henderson and Harry Hooper, are in the Hall of Fame.

The Elias Sports Bureau said Baltimore's Brady Anderson was the last to pull off the rare double during a home doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 21, 1999.

Before that, it was accomplished by Oakland's Henderson at home against the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1993, and Hooper while playing for the Boston Red on May 20, 1913, during a pair of games at the Washington Senators.

The Braves stretched their lead in the NL East to a full game over idle Philadelphia.

It was a totally forgettable day and night for the hapless Marlins, who struggled in all phases of the game. Poor hitting. Shaky pitching. Shoddy baserunning. Sloppy defense.

Acuna, a 20-year-old rookie, has flourished since moving into the leadoff role for the Braves. Over the course of about nine hours, he went 5-for-8 with two homers, five RBIs, five runs, two walks and a stolen base.

Acuna has 17 homers this season, four of them leading off games.

Foltynewicz (10-7) matched his career high for wins and even chipped in with an RBI single — only his third hit of the season. He went eight innings, allowing five hits and the lone Miami run.

Merandy Gonzalez (2-1) took the loss after being called up from Double-A Jacksonville for his first big league start.

Freddie Freeman also went deep for the Braves in Game 2 , his 19th homer of the season.

Looking cool as can be on a sweltering summer afternoon in Atlanta, Toussaint took full advantage of his temporary promotion to serve as the team's 26th player in the opening game. He surrendered just two hits and limited the damage from his only serious jam to a single run.

Toussaint (1-0) was born in Florida but moved to Haiti just a few months later, living there for about eight years. He returned to Florida after his parents split up and gave baseball a try.

He hopes word of his success gets back to Haiti, an impoverished Caribbean nation that has no passion for baseball and has never sent a native-born player to the majors.

Acuna staked his fellow rookie to a quick lead with the homer off Pablo Lopez (2-3). Acuna added a two-run double in the sixth, highlighting a five-run outburst that turned the game into a blowout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Miami 3B Martin Prado is headed back to the DL with yet another injury. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter after straining his left quadriceps sometime in the first two innings of Game 1.

It wasn't clear how Prado was hurt, but he's played only 53 games this season because of recurring hamstring issues. Last year, he was limited to a career-low 37 games because of injuries.

"It didn't sound too severe," manager Don Mattingly said. "But we'll see."

Prado's replacement, Miguel Rojas, was injured in Game 2. He sustained a left ankle contusion while getting thrown out at third base to end the second inning.

UP NEXT

Marlins: RHP Trevor Richards (3-7, 3.98) gets the nod when the NL East rivals meet again on Tuesday.

Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-3, 2.83) returns to the mound after going only two innings in his most recent start. Sanchez had to leave last Thursday's game at Washington after being struck on the leg with a liner up the middle.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

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