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Braves take ‘selfies’ to mark end of playoff woes

ATLANTA — It had been so long since the Atlanta Braves won a postseason series, Marcell Ozuna wanted to make sure he captured the moment.

Then Adam Duvall joined the selfie bandwagon.

Ian Anderson dazzled in another shutout performance for Atlanta, and the Braves won a playoff series for the first time in almost two decades by sweeping the light-hitting Cincinnati Reds with a 5-0 victory Thursday.

Ronald Acuna Jr. had three hits for the NL East champions, including a run-scoring double in the fifth. After winning Wednesday’s series opener 1-0 in 13 innings, Atlanta broke open Game 2 on two-run homers by Ozuna and Duvall off Raisel Iglesias in the eighth.

Following his drive to left-center, Ozuna paused on his jog down the first-base line to hold up his hand and pretend he was taking a selfie photo.

“It felt good, it feels amazing. Yesterday against Trevor Bauer, I was telling to my teammates that I’m going to be ready, I’m going to be ready, if I hit a homer, I’m going to take a selfie in the middle of the home plate and first base. And the moment came, and I did it,” he told ESPN after the game.

When Duvall added another shot, Ozuna called him to the end of the dugout for another selfie.

Duvall said Ozuna “kind of put me in the spotlight right there. I was having fun with it. That’s not really my forte. I’m not, I guess, super flashy or anything but we were having fun with it.”

It was definitely a fun day for Ozuna and Co. Not so much for Joey Votto and the Reds.

Anderson struck out nine in six innings as the Braves snapped their record-tying string of losses in 10 consecutive postseason rounds since their last playoff series win in 2001. Atlanta will face Miami or the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series in Houston.

The Braves had been 0-7 in their past seven potential clinching games in the postseason, including 0-2 in last year’s NL division series against St. Louis.

Duvall insisted the Braves had no extra motivation to end any of their postseason droughts.

“Honestly I didn’t feel any extra pressure that we have to win this series,” Duvall said. “The thought is to win every series … not so much that if we win the next round we’ll be further than we’ve been since ’01 or whatever.”

Manager Brian Snitker described the postgame celebration, somewhat limited by the coronavirus pandemic, as “a controlled chaos.”

“I told them we’re just checking a box off in what we want to get done,” Snitker said.

Just like in 2001, when Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz helped lead the way, Atlanta’s pitching staff delivered.

Anderson,22, allowed two hits and walked two in his playoff debut after six regular-season starts. Will Smith, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon each threw one perfect inning.

Anderson said it was special to be part of two consecutive shutouts in the series. Max Fried started in the Game 1 win.

“All the credit to Max for going out there yesterday pitch-for-pitch with Bauer and setting the tone for us,” Anderson said.

Cincinnati wasted a solid performance by Luis Castillo, who struck out seven in 5⅓ innings in his first postseason start. Bauer struck out 12 in 7⅔ scoreless innings in the Reds’ Game 1 loss.

“No one feels worse than the guys who put everything they had on the line, and it didn’t work out,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We’ve got to learn from it and find a way to be better from it.”

Atlanta jumped in front in the fifth. With two outs, Austin Riley took off from first base on a pitch Acuna lined into the gap in left-center. Riley scored easily and Acuna stood on second base, pumping both fists in the air in celebration.

Cincinnati left 13 runners on base Wednesday, and its scoring frustrations continued.

Anderson’s second walk of the second, to Freddy Galvis, loaded the bases with two outs. Tucker Barnhart‘s groundout to second base ended the inning. It was the Reds’ best scoring chance.

“It’s a tough game to play when you’re trying not to give up any runs, when you know the offense is struggling,” Barnhart said. “When you feel like you can’t give up any runs, it’s a really damn tough game to play.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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