Acuña goes deep again, leads Fried, Braves over Brewers
ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a fifth-inning homer for the game’s first run, Max Fried outpitched Corbin Burnes and the Atlanta Braves held off the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 on Saturday night.
Asked to protect a 3-1 lead, Braves closer Kenley Jansen gave up a run in the ninth. Christian Yelich, who led off with a double, scored on Tyrone Taylor’s one-out single to cut the Braves’ lead to one run.
Jansen then struck out Rowdy Tellez and Taylor was caught stealing for a double play to end the game. The Brewers unsuccessfully challenged the call on Taylor. Jansen earned his eighth save.
It was the second runner thrown out in the game by Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who also delivered a key run-scoring single off Luis Perdomo in the eighth.
“Travis was unbelievable again, especially with the two throw-outs,” Fried said.
Fried (4-2) allowed one run on four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in seven innings to end Milwaukee’s four-game winning streak.
“He goes out there ad puts up those zeroes and gives you a chance against a really tough pitcher,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
The teams have split the first two games of the rematch of last season’s NL Division Series won by the Braves on their way to their World Series championship.
Acuña’s homer off Burnes (1-2) was his second in two games as he continued to prove he has fully recovered from knee surgery.
Burnes lowered his ERA from 1.93 to 1.86 while allowing two runs, one earned, in six innings. He gave up six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Travis Demeritte’s diving catch of Christian Yelich’s shallow liner in left field kept the Brewers scoreless in the sixth. With two outs, Luis Urías singled and moved to third on Willy Adames’ double. Demeritte then raced in toward the infield to rob Yelich of a hit that likely would have driven in two runs.
Fried said the Braves’ strong defense made it easier to pitch when he knew “you don’t have to shoulder the whole load.”
Hunter Renfroe led off the Brewers seventh with his sixth homer for the only run allowed by Fried.
Acuña, making back-to-back starts in right field for the first time since returning from 2021 knee surgery on April 28, led off the game with a single off the right-field wall.
In the fifth, Acuña’s blast over the wall in left-center snapped a scoreless tie.
On Friday night, Acuña fell in the batter’s box after his big home-run swing. This time, Acuña kept his feet, borrowed from LeBron James’ “Silencer” celebration and thumped his chest while looking into the Braves dugout before beginning his path around the bases.
James posted approval on his Twitter account of the celebration by Acuña, who was thrilled by the recognition.
“To be honest, I never expected that but I’m beyond grateful for that support,” Acuña said through a translator.
Acuña walked and stole second in the seventh.
The Brewers committed two errors, including a two-base fielding miscue by Lorenzo Cain in center field, allowing Marcell Ozuna’s single to bounce past him in the sixth. Ozuna advance to third and scored on Albies’ sharp grounder past Tellez at first base.
Renfroe’s walk to open the second ended Fried’s streak of 29 innings without a free pass. Renfroe was thrown out by d’Arnaud while attempting to steal second base to end the inning.
Braves rookie Spencer Strider’s four scoreless innings with eight strikeouts on Friday night highlighted his potential as a starter. Meanwhile, his fastball clocked at 101 mph makes the right-hander look like a future closer.
For now, Strider will continue to work out of Atlanta’s bullpen. Snitker acknowledged he doesn’t know if that’ll be Strider’s long-term job.
“I just think he’s a pitcher right now,” Snitker said. “I don’t know that he needs a defined role yet. ... I think the best thing we can do is continue to give him innings.”
Brewers: OF Andrew McCutchen was placed on the COVID-19 injured list after testing positive. Manager Craig Counsell said McCutchen had symptoms on Saturday before returning to the team hotel. It was not known if McCutchen will be able to join the team on its trip to Cincinnati following Sunday’s game. INF Mike Brosseau was recalled from Triple-A Nashville.
Brewers LHP Aaron Ashby (0-2, 2.33), who has worked in relief and as a spot starter, moves back into the rotation for an indefinite period when he makes his third start of the season in Sunday’s final game of the series against Braves RHP Charlie Morton (1-3, 6.85). Morton is attempting to regroup following a slow start to the season.
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