The Atlanta Braves capped a most surprising season by clinching their first National League East crown since 2013, with Mike Foltynewicz taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning Saturday in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. A year after the team went 70-92, Manager Brian Snitker and his Baby Braves surged back into the playoffs. A loud crowd at SunTrust Park joined the party when the rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. caught a fly ball for the final out, setting off a celebration.
The Braves will make their first postseason appearance since their last division title on Oct. 4 in the N.L. division series.
“You could tell after the first week of workouts that we had the talent to do something special,” the All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “Obviously we still needed to put it together. But this is what happens. You win the division after three straight 90-loss seasons.”
Atlanta won its fourth straight game and beat second-place Philadelphia for the third day in a row. The Phillies also startled a lot of fans, leading the division in early August, but they faded while going 6-14 this month.
“When we started this series, we knew it was within our grasp,” Snitker said. “We knew we couldn’t lose track of today. I know I’m redundant saying that all the time, but I felt we just needed to stay current and worry about today’s game. These guys have done an unbelievable job of that this year.”
Foltynewicz (12-10) tipped his cap to a standing ovation as he left with runners on first and second in the eighth with a 4-0 lead. Jesse Biddle relieved, walked the first batter he faced and gave up two runs on Cesar Hernadez’s bases-loaded single. Brad Brach allowed Rhys Hoskins’s R.B.I. single before Jonny Venters escaped the jam on a lineout and a grounder. Kurt Suzuki added a run-scoring single to make it 5-3 in the eighth against Seranthony Dominguez, Philadelphia’s seventh pitcher. Arodys Vizcaino, in his first save situation since June 17, closed out the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances, getting Wilson Ramos to ground out, striking out Roman Quinn and retiring Maikel Franco on a fly ball to Acuna in left.
Phillies starter Jake Arrieta (10-10) lasted two innings, allowing four runs, four hits and three walks in the shortest outing of his nine-year major league career. Atlanta led, 2-0, in the first after Arrieta walked three of the first four batters and Johan Camargo hit a two-run single.
Freeman hit a two-run single in the second to make it 4-0. Freeman, one of two current Braves who played on the 2013 division-winning team, is hitting .389 over his last 14 games. Foltynewicz did not give up a hit until Odubel Herrera singled to begin the seventh. Franco singled with one out in the eighth. The 26-year-old Foltynewicz has matured in his third full season, earning his first All-Star appearance and posting a 2.88 earned run average, almost two full runs lower than his career average entering the year.
Atlanta was not projected to contend when the season began. It had no proven ace and was counting on several young position players to complement Freeman, the lone big bat in the lineup. The team had been embarrassed off the field with the former general manager John Coppolella barred from baseball in a signing scandal. But Atlanta, fueled by young, budding stars like Acuna, second baseman Ozzie Albies and third baseman Camargo, never trailed in the division race after a 9-1 win over Miami on Aug. 13.