COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Orlando Arcia continues to show he can be more than a defensive fill-in while the Atlanta Braves wait for another player to take the shortstop position.
Aricia’s hitting is a big reason the Braves have enjoyed a strong start to the season.
Arcia singled in the winning run in the ninth inning for his third hit and the Braves beat the San Diego Padres 7-6 on Thursday night in their home opener.
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Arcia hit a third-inning homer and also had a double. He is hitting .370 and has been a major surprise for anyone who expected two of the team’s top prospects, Vaughn Grissom or Braden Shewmake, to win the position left vacant when Dansby Swanson signed with the Chicago Cubs.
“If he keeps hitting the way he’s hitting, we’re going to be in a really good spot,” said Spencer Strider, who gave up three runs in five innings.
Arcia said through a translator Grissom and Shewmake, who began the season at Triple-A Gwinnett, “are extremely talented. As for me, I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”
The Braves (6-1) won the opener of the four-game series.
With two outs in the ninth, pinch-hitter Eddie Rosario doubled to the right-field corner off right-hander Nabil Crismatt (0-1). Arcia followed with the single to center field that drove in Rosario to set off an on-field celebration.
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“I like those situations,” Arcia said. “I like those situations a lot. I just tell myself I want to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
A.J. Minter (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Padres took a 6-4 lead in the eighth. Xander Bogaerts raced home from third base on a wild pitch from Kirby Yates. José Azocar followed with a bunt that Yates fielded before throwing wide of first base for an error. Cronenworth scored as Azocar raced to third base.
The Braves pulled even in the bottom of the eighth. Arcia doubled and scored on Olson’s single off Tim Hill. Travis d’Arnaud’s single to right field drove in Olson for a 6-6 tie. Juan Soto’s diving catch of Ozzie Albies’ pop fly to shallow left field ended the inning.
Matt Carpenter hit a three-run homer and Jake Cronenworth added a solo shot for the Padres.
Arcia’s second homer of the season, a line-drive shot off Blake Snell caught by a fan with a baseball glove on the front row of the left-field seats, gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
Carpenter pulled a low inside pitch from Spencer Strider over the right-field wall for a three-run homer to give the Padres a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
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Bogaerts delivered a defensive highlight in the third after the Braves had runners on first and second with one out. Travis d’Arnaud hit a sharp grounder to Bogaerts’ right. Bogaerts made a diving stop before throwing from his knees to Ha-Seong Kim at second base to start a double play.
Snell issued four walks, including three in the fourth. Snell’s bases-loaded walk to Matt Olson forced in a run to give Atlanta a 4-3 lead. Domingo Tapia struck out Austin Riley to end the inning. Snell allowed four runs in 3 2/3 innings, leaving his ERA at 7.88 after two starts.
Strider recorded nine strikeouts but wasn’t happy to last only five innings.
“It’s just a matter of continuing to find the mechanical consistency,” Strider said. “There’s a lot of positives to take away. ... Obviously, I’d like to not hand four innings to the bullpen.”
Stetson Bennett, the quarterback who led Georgia to back-to-back national football championships, wore a Braves jersey as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Bennett fired a fastball that skipped off the glove of the guest catcher who works with team mascot Blooper.
Atlanta CF Michael Harris II left the game before the fourth inning with lower back discomfort after hitting the wall making a catch. Manager Brian Snitker said Harris is day to day. ... The Braves placed RHP Collin McHugh on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation after his velocity was down while allowing one run and three hits in one inning in Wednesday’s 5-2 win at St. Louis.
The Braves recalled rookie left-hander Jared Shuster (0-1, 7.71 ERA) from Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday to start Friday night’s game against Padres RHP Nick Martinez (0-1, 5.14).
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