It certainly wasn't the start Max Fried wanted, or maybe more accurately, it certainly wasn't the finish Max Fried wanted, but the Braves eventually did hold on to beat the Pirates 6-5 Wednesday night in a wild, back-and-forth game.
The game started well enough. The Braves threatened in the first inning after a single from Ozzie Albies, a double from Austin Riley, and a walk to Matt Olson to load the bases with one out. They didn't end up scoring in the first after a double-play ball from Sean Murphy, but the offense came ready to play.
They would get on the board in the top of the second after Orlando Arcia roped a 2-out double to right field and was brought home on a line-drive single to center from Michael Harris to make it a 1-0 game.
The Braves continued to add in the top of the third, after a 1-out single from Riley, who advanced to second on a grounder from Olson. Sean Murphy then blooped an RBI single into center-field to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Max Fried spent the first three innings cruising. After throwing a 1-2-3 first inning, Fried gave up his first hit of the night with a 1-out double from Henry Davis. Fried shut things down quickly by striking out the next two guys, and also threw a scoreless third inning after scattering a couple of singles.
On the offensive side, the Braves kept adding on. In the fourth, Eddie Rosario led things off with a single to center and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Ronald Acuńa Jr then joined the party by roping an RBI double down the left field line, driving in Rosario, and making the score 3-0. Albies immediately added on with an RBI single to right, and the Braves had a 4-0 lead with their ace on the mound, and things were looking great.
But then the bottom of the fourth happened. It started harmlessly enough for Fried with a fly-out to right field for the first out. But then Fried went walk, single, HBP to the next three hitters to load the bases with one out. Fried then induced a weak ground-ball to short that Orlando Arcia double-clutched on and was late to get the out at first. The Pirates had their first run. After another weak groundout led to the second run, Ke’Bryan Hayes then bounced an 2-run single up the middle and all of the sudden a comfortable 4-run lead was gone.
Fried’s night was finished there, at 4 innings and 4 earned runs allowed, certainly not the end of the outing he was looking for after a strong first three innings.
The offense kept coming though. Harris doubled to center to start the top of the sixth and then moved to third on an infield single from Acuńa. Albies then brought Harris in with an RBI single to center and the Braves once again had the lead, 5-4.
Give credit to the Pirates because they kept coming too. After throwing a couple of scoreless frames in the fifth and the sixth, Collin McHugh gave up a solo homer to Hayes with 1-out in the seventh, to tie the game at 5.
But the Braves game right back in the top of the eighth. Harris led off with an infield single and moved up to second on Acuńa’s single center, the third hit of the night for both guys. Harris moved to third grounder from Albies, and then in a wild play, scored from third on a pop up to shallow right field that was fielded by the second-baseman. Harris was initially called out on appeal for leaving third early, but Atlanta challenged and replay clearly showed Harris’ foot still on the bag when the ball was caught. The Braves were back in front, 6-5.
AJ Minter and Rasiel Iglesias finished the evening off in the eight and ninth, with some dramatic moments thrown in there to give everyone’s blood pumping, and the Braves capped off a 6-5 win. Whew.
Atlanta moves to 72-40 on the year and maintains a 10.5 game lead in the NL East. They'll go for the outright series win tomorrow in a 12:35 mid-day start with Bryce Elder on the mound and LHP Bailey Falter starting for Pittsburgh.