LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Atlanta Braves haven’t had much regular-season success at Dodger Stadium since 2014. They turned to local product Max Fried to change that.
Fried tossed seven shutout innings in the stadium located about 15 miles from his old high school, and the Braves beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.
Newlywed star Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 31st homer and stole his 63rd base in helping the Braves improve to 19-37 in 56 regular-season games in LA over the last nine years.
Fried finally is feeling like himself again since returning Aug. 4 from a stint on the 60-day injured list with a strained forearm.
“Definitely feel like I’d been going through the motions at times and not really been as sharp and focused on making pitches and winning a ballgame the way it was today,” he said. “It was definitely kind of a jolt, and really going to try to use this as a springboard.”
Fried struck out six of the first eight batters he faced. The Dodgers didn’t get their first hit until Miguel Rojas’ single with two outs in the third. They didn’t advance a runner to second until there were two outs in the seventh.
“He looked like himself,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said of Fried. “He was very comfortable, so I think he’s right where he needs to be.”
Fried (6-1) allowed three hits, including singles to Freddie Freeman and Amed Rosario, struck out a season-high 10 and walked two. It was the left-hander’s fourth career game with double-digit strikeouts and first since Aug. 30, 2019, against the Chicago White Sox.
Fried is regaining his form with a month left in the regular season. After going 90 days between appearances during his IL stint, his arm is fresh for a potential lengthy postseason run.
“I don’t have a lot of innings on my arm, which is really nice,” he said, “but it’s really just trying to fine-tune it and just sharpen and make sure that I’m the same guy that I’ve been in the past. I feel like today was a good step forward.”
The Braves (89-45) lead the Dodgers (83-51) by six games for the best record in the majors and potential home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Atlanta pounded out 14 hits in sending the Dodgers to a second consecutive loss for the first time since the end of July.
Acuña was at it again one night after he got married during the day and in the evening became baseball’s first player with 30 home runs and 60 stolen bases in the same season.
He went deep leading off the third inning against Julio Urías (11-8), flexing his muscles as the 418-foot shot landed beyond the center-field fence. In the fifth, Acuña doubled leading off, stole third and scored on Austin Riley’s double off the bullpen gate in right. It was his 10th game with a steal and a homer, which leads the majors.
For the second straight game, Acuña got the better of rival NL MVP candidate Mookie Betts. Betts, who hit .455 in August, was 0 for 3 with a strikeout to open September before being lifted in the eighth.
Kirby Yates pitched the ninth to earn his third save.
D’Arnaud homered in the second and Marcell Ozuna hit his 32nd homer leading off the fourth.
Ozuna added a bloop RBI single in the fifth and doubled leading off the eighth. He scored on Eddie Rosario’s single for a 6-0 lead.
The Dodgers rallied with three runs in the eighth after Betts and Freeman were removed for pinch-hitters.
“I never felt good with just six runs,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “As long as they’ve got an out left, they’re just so dangerous, as we saw.”
Kolten Wong had a pinch-hit, three-run homer with two outs in his Dodgers debut, cutting their deficit to 6-3. Will Smith walked and Amed Rosario singled off Pierce Johnson, bringing Chris Taylor to the plate as the potential tying run. He went down swinging against Michael Tonkin.
Acuña raced in to make a knee-high catch for the second out of the ninth.
Urías gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings of his second straight loss. The left-hander struck out four and walked two.
Eddie Rosario was caught stealing home in the second. Urías’ throw bounced in the dirt and catcher Will Smith one-handed it, tagging Rosario to save the run.
Braves: All-Star catcher Sean Murphy got the night off.
Dodgers: DH J.D. Martinez (groin) will play a couple of rehab games with Triple-A Oklahoma City starting Sunday and is on track to rejoin the team in Washington next week. … RHP Joe Kelly (forearm) threw a 20-pitch bullpen, using all his pitches and touching the mid-90s on the radar gun.
Snitker joked that Friday was “a dull day” after Acuña surprised the team by secretly getting married hours before the series opener.
“I saw pictures. It looked like a really nice affair. Good-looking young people getting married,” Snitker said, then joked, “I just hope they like the candlestick holders I got them.”
Kobe Bryant’s daughter, Natalia, threw out the first pitch as the Lakers franchise for which her father starred was honored.
The 20-year-old University of Southern California student tossed the ball from in front of the mound. It took one bounce and went into the glove of Betts, who was handling catching duties.
RHP Bryce Elder (11-4, 3.50 ERA) starts for the Braves on Saturday. The Dodgers are likely to either start RHP Emmet Sheehan (3-1, 5.63) or use him for bulk innings. He just returned for his second stint with the team.
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