All-Star Max Fried looks to conclude a stellar first half on a high note when the Atlanta Braves visit the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Fried (9-3, 2.56 ERA) is 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA over his past five starts. That loss came in his last outing, when he was outdueled by the Mets’ Max Scherzer.
The left-hander saw his nine-game winning streak end in his first loss since April 13 as he allowed two runs on five hits. Fried walked five batters, matching his career high.
“Just wasn’t commanding the baseball,” he said. “They had really good approaches, really weren’t chasing very much. I had to be in the zone. Tonight was one of those nights where I had to go out there and have a good game, have my A game, and it just didn’t happen.”
Fried, who has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his past 10 starts, is 5-4 with a 4.60 ERA in 14 career games (13 starts) against the Nationals.
Right-hander Paolo Espino (0-2, 3.42) gets the start for Washington. The 35-year-old has appeared in 26 games for Washington, six of them starts.
He picked up a no-decision Sunday in Atlanta when he allowed two runs on six hits in four innings. Espino walked one and struck out four with 65 pitches.
“He was fine,” manager Dave Martinez said. “The couple of hits he gave up, the balls just got up on him. When he throws the ball down, he’s really good. Paolo has done a lot of things for us.”
Espino is 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in nine career games (three starts) against the Braves.
Atlanta extended its string of success against the Nationals with an 8-4 victory Friday night, its eighth straight win against Washington and 13th consecutive triumph at Nationals Park.
Austin Riley, Orlando Arcia and Adam Duvall homered, and Matt Olson had three RBI singles for the Braves, who ended a four-game stretch during which all of their runs scored on homers.
Riley extended his hitting streak to 11 games, batting .413 (19-for-46) with three doubles, six homers, 12 RBIs and nine runs scored during the string.
“I can’t believe he’s not an All-Star,” winning pitcher Ian Anderson said. “Everyone is saying he turned it on a little too late, but he’s right in the MVP talks again and it’s just a steady, steady effort.”
Josh Bell had three hits for the Nationals, who have lost eight straight and 14 of 15. Over his last 27 games, Bell is hitting .339 with 11 doubles, one triple, six homers, 10 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
Washington continued its recent pattern of ninth-inning rallies that fall short, scoring three times and getting the tying run to the plate before A.J. Minter struck out Keibert Ruiz.
“None of these guys likes that we’re losing,” Martinez said. “That’s why you see them continue to play the way they’re playing at the end of games, trying to come back. But we’ve got to come out and put the pressure on the other team, and try to score first and go from there.”
Juan Soto of the Nationals saw his 16-game hitting streak snapped, but extended his on-base streak to 24 games with two walks.
Nationals designated hitter Nelson Cruz left the game with a tight quad.
–Field Level Media