Rafael Ortega’s sixth inning grand slam was the difference for the Atlanta Braves in a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Things didn’t start well for Max Fried who ran into trouble immediately. Fried issued a leadoff walk to A.J. Pollock but immediately picked him off at first. He then allowed back-to-back singles to Justin Turner and Will Smith before Cody Bellinger hit his 42nd home run of the year to put Los Angeles on top 3-0. Ronald Acuña Jr. got a glove on Bellinger’s homer but lost the ball as his arm crashed onto the top of the fence.
The Braves nearly broke through against rookie Tony Gonsolin in the third but a pair of base running mistakes proved costly. Fried led off the inning with a double off the right center field wall. Acuña followed with a drive of his own that hit high off the top of the wall in right center. Fried apparently lost track of the baseball and broke late and only reached third on the play. Acuña was slow to leave the batters box and moved slowly up the line thinking the ball was going to leave the ballpark and had to settle for a long single. He was then thrown out trying to steal what would have been his 30th stolen base of the season. Gonsolin then got Ozzie Albies to fly out to shallow left and struck out Freddie Freeman to end the inning.
Acuña went back out on defense in the top half of the inning but was lifted between innings after a conversation with Brian Snitker in the tunnel. Adam Duvall replaced Acuña in the lineup with Ortega shifting over to center.
Atlanta finally broke through in the fourth as Matt Joyce singled to left and came around to score on a double by Adeiny Hechavarria to cut the deficit to 3-1.
After a 38-pitch first inning, Fried settled in holding the Dodgers scoreless for the next four innings. He would exit after hitting in the fifth having allowed eight hits and three runs over five innings. He walked three and struck out eight.
Gonsolin was equally impressive holding the Braves to five hits and one run over four innings. Pedro Baez worked a scoreless fifth before giving way to rookie Dustin May in the sixth.
Atlanta went to work against May as Brian McCann worked a one out walk and then advanced to second on a single by Joyce. Hechavarria was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. That would bring Ortega to the plate who was making his first start in a Braves uniform. Ortega fell behind in the count 1-2 but barreled up a 95 mph sinker from May and drove it out to right center for a grand slam to put Atlanta in front 5-3.
The Braves’ bullpen came through again as Anthony Swarzak, Chris Martin, Shane Greene and Mark Melancon combined for four scoreless innings while allowing just one hit to close out the victory.
Kudos to the Braves for coming from behind and relegating the Acuña situation to just a footnote in what was a huge win. Atlanta takes the series and improves to 74-52 on the season. They will enjoy an off day on Monday before opening up a three-game series against the Miami Marlins.