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Travis d’Arnaud has 4 hits as Braves beat Nationals, 7-2

Strong bullpen work and a big day by d’Arnaud helped Atlanta overcome an early exit by Max Fried.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Travis d’Arnaud turned in a big day at the plate and some strong bullpen work helped the Atlanta Braves to a 7-2 win on Opening Day over the Washington Nationals.

The Braves got things started quickly and threatened in the first although they weren’t able to cash in. Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the game with a single to right. He drew two pick off throws from Corbin and then picked up the first of what will likely be many stolen bases.

After a strikeout by Matt Olson, Austin Riley walked before Ozzie Albies barreled a drive into right center that Lane Thomas flagged down in right field with a nice running catch. Acuña advanced to third on the play, but Sean Murphy struck out to end the inning.

Thomas led off the home half of the inning with a high pop up to center that fell in between Albies and Michael Harris for a hit. Max Fried came right back though and got Joey Meneses to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Jeimer Candelario then grounded out to bookend a nice eight-pitch inning for Fried.

Atlanta got on the board in the second with some small ball. Harris got things started with a one-out single and then moved all the way to third on a single by Travis d’Arnaud. Orlando Arcia followed with a single to score Harris and make it 1-0.

The Braves weren’t finished as Acuña reached on an error by CJ Abrams. After another Olson strikeout, Riley walked to force in a run to make it 2-0. Albies then reached on an infield single that scored Arcia to extend the advantage to 3-0.

The Nationals got a run back and the high sky again played a part. Dominic Smith led off the inning by reaching on a pop up that Arcia lost in the sun for a single. Keibert Ruiz then sent a double down the line in right to put runners at second and third with no one out. Alex Call brought Smith home with a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 3-1. Fried went back to work and and got a big strikeout of Luis Garcia and then got Victor Robles to ground out to avoid any further damage.

Atlanta got that run back in the fourth as Olson doubled off the wall in center. That would end the day for Corbin who was replaced by Erasmo Ramirez. Riley worked yet another walk and Albies singled again to load the bases. Murphy then bounced into a double play, but Olson scored to push the lead to 4-1.

Fried came back out for the fourth and retired Smith on a ground out to Olson. Fried appeared to hurt himself while covering the bag which prompted a visit from Atlanta’s training staff. Fried appeared to grab at the back of his left leg and would exit the game after throwing one warm up pitch. The Braves would later announce that Fried left the game with left hamstring discomfort.

Lucas Luetge replaced Fried and allowed an infield single to Ruiz, but retired Call and Garcia on a pair of ground outs to end the inning. Luetge returned for the fifth and allowed a single to Robles, but then got Abrams to ground out. He was then replaced by Jesse Chavez retired Thomas on a ground out, but then gave up a single to Meneses that scored Robles to cut Atlanta’s lead to 4-2.

Chavez returned for the sixth and allowed Smith to reach on an infield single. Riley made a nice diving stab, but tried to make an off balance through to first that was wide. Smith moved up to second on the error. Smith moved to third on a ground out by Ruiz, but Chavez struck out Call for the second out. He was then replaced by Dylan Lee who retired Garcia on a fly out to leave the runner stranded.

Lee came back out to start the seventh and issued a leadoff walk to Robles. He then got Abrams to fly out and would then give way to Collin McHugh. McHugh struck out Thomas and retired Meneses on a fly out to end the frame.

Things got interesting again in the eighth. McHugh was penalized for a pitch clock violation after he didn’t finish his warm up tosses in time.

He then missed with three straight pitches to Candelario for a leadoff walk. Another walk to Smith put runners at first and second before Ruiz flew out to Harris in center for the first out. McHugh was able to work out of the jam getting pinch hitter Corey Dickerson and Garcia to ground out to strand two more runners.

Atlanta added some insurance in the ninth against Kyle Finnegan. Sam Hilliard, who took over in left in the seventh as a defensive replacement, walked to begin the inning and then moved to second on another walk to Harris. d’Arnaud made them pay with a double to left center that scored both to make it 6-2.

d’Arnaud advanced to third on a fly out by Arcia and the relay throw skipped into the dugout allowing him to score to extend the lead to 7-2.

A.J. Minter walked Robles to start the ninth, but retired the next three hitters in order to end the game.

d’Arnaud finished with four of Atlanta’s 12 hits. Acuña, Olson and Albies all finished the game with two hits each. The bullpen did its job pitching into and out of trouble. The group allowed four hits and four walks after Fried exited, but just one run over the final 5 2/3 innings to seal the win. Meneses, Smith and Ruiz had two hits each for Washington.

The series will continue on Saturday with Spencer Strider scheduled to match up against Nationals right-hander Josiah Gray.

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