By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — The last couple of weeks have been tough for the Braves, but Ozzie Albies’ first career multihomer game was special.READ MORE: Atlanta Celebrates Opening Of Truist Andrew and Walter Young Family At-Promise Center
Making his mother’s wish come true was even better.
Albies snapped Atlanta’s power drought with two homers, and the Braves beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-5 on Wednesday to move back into a tie for the NL East lead.
Albies’ mother, Judari, arrived from their Curacao home on Tuesday night. It was a rare opportunity for the 21-year-old second baseman to play with his mother in the stands.
He made the most of the night by fulfilling his mother’s request to reach 20 homers — a level not expected of 5-foot-8, 165-pound middle infielders.
“It feels amazing. She told me before I left Curacao she wants 20 this year,” he said. “To have it right in front of her, she saw it live, so I hope she’s happy today.”
Albies leads the Braves in homers, even though first baseman Freddie Freeman, who has 16, will participate in next week’s All-Star Home Run Derby.
“They asked me if I wanted to participate,” Albies said. “I said yes. I guess I didn’t make it. … I’ll bring him Gatorade.”
Albies is the first Atlanta player since Andruw Jones, also a native of Curacao, in 2006 to hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break.
“It must be a Curacao thing, I guess,” Albies said.
Albies, headed to his first All-Star Game next week, led off the sixth with a drive off Luis Santos that ended Atlanta’s season-long stretch of five games without a homer. He also had a sacrifice fly in the Braves’ six-run second.
Mike Foltynewicz (7-5) and the Braves led 7-0 before Toronto scored five runs in the seventh on Justin Smoak’s leadoff homer and a grand slam by Devon Travis . But Albies hit a two-run shot in the eighth to help Atlanta hold on for just its second win in eight games.
Coupled with Philadelphia’s loss to the New York Mets, the Braves moved into a tie with the Phillies for the division lead.
Foltynewicz allowed only one hit through six scoreless innings before giving up Smoak’s 14th homer high into the right-field seats to open the seventh.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with two-out singles from Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Aledmys Diaz and Luke Maile before Travis hit his third career grand slam, knocking Foltynewicz out of the game.READ MORE: Fantasy Football Start Or Sit Week 13: Elijah Mitchell Looks To Take Advantage Of Seahawks' Defense
“After all that work, for that to happen is disappointing,” Foltynewicz said.
Foltynewicz, also selected to his first All-Star Game, has completed seven innings in only two of his 18 starts this season.
A safety squeeze by Foltynewicz drove in Johan Camargo in the second. Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis had run-scoring doubles in the inning. Freeman and Tyler Flowers singled in runs.
Blue Jays: LHP Jaime Garcia (sore left shoulder) is scheduled to make a rehab appearance with Class A Dunedin on Thursday. … CF Kevin Pillar was given a day off.
Braves: Inciarte was hit near his right elbow by a pitch from Gaviglio in the first inning. He remained in the game and had a run-scoring double in the second inning before being replaced by Santana to open the fifth inning. He is not expected to miss any games.
Toronto’s Sam Gaviglio (2-3) allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings in his shortest career start. He fell to 1-3 with an 8.72 ERA in five road starts.
Mauricio Cabrera, who hasn’t returned to the majors since 2016, when he recorded six saves, five wins and a 2.82 ERA with Atlanta, was released by the Braves. The hard-throwing Cabrera, 24, had an 11.03 ERA with 41 walks in 31 innings with High-A Florida.
FANNING THE DERBY TALK
Freeman will face hometown favorite Bryce Harper in the first round of the Derby at Nationals Park.
“It should be fun. I’m hoping the fans are excited for him and he gets nervous and gets a zero,” Freeman said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ, the subject of trade rumors, will look for his 11th win when Toronto opens a four-game series at Boston on Thursday night.MORE NEWS: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Drug Lab Earns Accreditation
Braves: Following an off day on Thursday, RHP Anibal Sanchez will take his surprising 2.72 ERA into Friday night’s opening game of a weekend series against RHP Zack Godley and visiting Arizona.