Atlanta Braves sweep Philadelphia Phillies, clinch 4th straight NL East title

ATLANTA -- Ian Anderson pitched another impressive performance. Jorge Soler and Austin Riley both homered, and the Braves won their fourth consecutive NL East title. They also beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3.
The Braves won their 21st Division title, their 21st since 1966 when they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

When they open the best of five National League Division Series at Central champion Brewers, Oct. 8, the team will face their hometown.

In the division-clinching victory, Atlanta's first hitter was the one who got things moving. Soler scored his 26th homer on the season's first leadoff homer, hitting deep on a pitch from Kyle Gibson (3-2).

Riley added to his lead, adding to his unlikely MVP candidacy with his 33rd homer. To extend his lead to 5-0, he drove in another run in the fifth with a single-at-bat error.

Anderson (9-5) was able to do more, and appears to be returning to the form he displayed in the 2020 postseason.

Anderson pitched six scoreless innings with one-hit balls before Andrew McCutchen scored two runs in the seventh. A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, and Will Smith worked the final three innings. Smith earned his 37th save.

On their way to another division title, the Braves faced many obstacles.

Ronald Acuna Jr., the star outfielder, was forced to retire from the game with a knee injury that ended his season. Former ace Mike Soroka did not make the expected return after injuring his Achilles tendon a second time.

Marcell Ozuna, the Braves' pot-stirring outfielder and slugging outfielder, was also taken into custody after an altercation in May with his wife. He didn't return home to join the team.

The Braves did not have a winning year record until August. ESPN Stats & Information research shows that they had gone 126 days without a winning record. This is the fourth-longest streak of consecutive division winners since 1969, and the longest since 1989 Blue Jays.

Alex Anthopoulos, general manager, pulled off a series of impressive moves just before the deadline and assembled a completely new outfield which included Soler as well as Adam Duvall.

The Braves were hot in the second half of the season and won one of the minors' weakest divisions. The Braves took the NL East lead Aug. 15, while on a 9-0 road trip, and have not relinquished it since.

Philadelphia had a late surge and was within 1 game of the lead last weekend.

Atlanta ended the Phillies' chances with their stifling start by Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Anderson. They combined to allow only 10 hits and three earned runs in 20 innings of the series.

After Smith had struck out Ronald Torreyes, it was time to celebrate with a crowd of 38,235.

This report was contributed by The Associated Press.