MILWAUKEE — Showing why he has quickly established himself as one of the game’s top starters, Max Fried once again got the Braves back on track with another of those dominant starts he frequently produced over the past couple of months.
Ozzie Albies capped a two-run third with a double and Austin Riley drilled a homer that gave Fried some comfort as he guided the Braves to a 3-0 win over the Brewers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Saturday at American Family Field.
As the Braves evened this best-of-five series, they once again benefited from the poise of Fried, who recorded nine strikeouts and allowed just three hits over six scoreless innings. He was lifted after throwing just 81 pitches, four more than Charlie Morton had thrown before his dominant effort was tarnished during the seventh inning of Atlanta’s Game 1 loss.
“I felt like I was able to use all my pitches today,” Fried said to TBS after the victory. “[Catcher Travis d’Arnaud] was someone I was really leaning on, and just being able to talk back and forth in the dugout. It’s a really good team over there, so we just wanted to try to stay on top and keep them off balance.”
Possibly looking to make sure Fried would be fresh for a potential Game 5 on Thursday, Braves manager Brian Snitker turned to the bullpen in the seventh. Luke Jackson surrendered a single to Luis Urías and walked Lorenzo Cain with two outs in the seventh. After the Brewers announced left-handed slugger Daniel Vogelbach as a pinch-hitter, Snitker called upon his top lefty reliever, Tyler Matzek.
This prompted the Brewers to replace Vogelbach with right-handed hitter Tyrone Taylor. Matzek, who served as Atlanta’s top high-leverage option over the final months, killed yet another threat by striking out Taylor.
Matzek escaped another jam in the eighth, then closer Will Smith sealed it in the ninth to preserve the effort of Fried, who led the Majors with a 1.74 ERA after the All-Star break. He has held opponents scoreless in three of his past four starts going back to a seven-inning effort in San Francisco on Sept. 19.
“This is playoff baseball,” Riley said to MLB Network. “You’d like to come in here and take two, but 1-1, we’ll take it. Going back home, it should be a good matchup.”