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Braves clinch playoff spot with win over Nationals

The magic number to clinch the division is now four games.
Credit: braves

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ronald Acuña Jr. ignited a four-run rally with the go-ahead, two-run double, as the NL East leading Atlanta Braves clinched a playoff berth with a 10-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.  

Acuña Jr.'s double down the left-field line off of Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney added fuel to a dramatic seventh inning for the Braves (93-57), who reduced their magic number to four to clinch their 19th division title. The win eliminated the Phillies from winning the NL East.

Earlier in the seventh, Charlie Culberson was struck directly on the right cheekbone by a 91 mph fastball on Rodney's first pitch of the game.

Culberson, who was pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, remained on his back for several minutes as trainers pressed a towel to his face. He was eventually helped to his feet and onto the back of a cart, clutching the towel to his face.

Atlanta manager Brian Snitker was enraged that Culberson was charged with a swinging strike on the play and was thrown out for the 13th time, including four this season.

The Braves hardly missed a beat, though, as Acuña Jr. and Albies immediately followed with back-to-back doubles that drove in runs. Albies was trying to stop his swing, but Rodney's pitch glanced off his bat and floated into shallow left, allowing Acuña Jr. to score.