Atlanta opens second half with dominant win over White Sox

Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Behind an early grand slam and a dazzling pitching performance from Charlie Morton, the Atlanta Braves returned from the All-Star break with an impressive 9-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Atlanta moves to 61-29 after the win, while Chicago drops to 38-55.

The Braves went to work immediately to create some traffic on the basepaths. Ronald Acuña Jr. drew a lead-off walk, then proceeded to steal second base for his 42nd steal of the season. Atlanta loaded the bases after Ozzie Albies was hit by a pitch and Austin Riley drew a walk himself to load the bases. After taking the first pitch, Matt Olson sent an inside pitch 430-feet to right center for a grand slam, his 30th home run of 2023. It extends the Braves franchise-record for most consecutive games with a home run, now up to 27 in a row.

White Sox starter Michael Kopech would end up walking two more batters before his day ended after 38 pitches with just one out in the 1st. Replacing him, a familiar face in former Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint. Touki put together an impressive outing to keep the Atlanta offense in check. After escaping the bases loaded jam in the first, he allowed one earned run and just three hits the next five innings.

That was the second-most impressive pitching performance of the day at Truist Park. Charlie Morton delivered one of his best outings of the 2023 season, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits, one walk, and striking out four batters. He's now lowered his ERA in July to 0.47 over 19 innings of work.

The Braves added some insurance in the seventh behind some timely hitting from the bottom part of the order. Marcell Ozuna drew a 12-pitch walk, followed by a single from Eddie Rosario to move a runner into scoring position. Back-to-back RBI singles from Orlando Arcia and Michael Harris II pushed the lead to 7-0 as the lineup card flipped. Two batters later, Ozzie Albies cleared the bases with an RBI double into right center to make it 9-0 Atlanta. He's second in the NL with 66 RBI, 10 behind Matt Olson.

Atlanta will go for its 12th straight series win on Saturday in the second game of this three-game set. First pitch against the White Sox is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET.