Despite blistering finger, Fried leads Braves past Brewers

Max Fried had been waiting for a chance to get back on the mound and wash away the bitter taste of his last outing.

Nine days after allowing five runs on a season-high 11 hits in a loss to the Marlins, the Braves’ lefthander bounced back in a big way with five scoreless innings in a 4-2 victory over the Brewers Monday at Miller Park.

Fried, who worked six shutout innings in a May start against Milwaukee, struck out five while allowing only three hits and a pair of walks. Forty-six of his 78 pitches were strikes.

And he might have worked even deeper into the game were it not for a blister that developed on his left index finger, leading manager Brian Snitker to give his young lefthander an early hook.

“I thought it was smart not trying to pitch through it,” Snitker said. “It was pretty significant. If he hadn't have said anything and kept pitching, it probably would have torn open.”

Fried dealt with the issue last season in a start against the Brewers that landed him on the disabled list — an outcome he had hoped to avoid this time around.

“I’m hopeful,” Fried said. “It’s a lot better than previous ones I’ve had. Last year, here, it was a lot worse. It was really, really painful. I’ll just try to get some treatment on it and see how it feels tomorrow.”

Fried left with a 3-0 lead thanks to Freddie Freeman’s 25th home run of the season, a three-run blast off Milwaukee’s Adrian Houser in the fourth inning. Houser had faced the minimum through his first three innings but allowed back-to-back singles to Ronald Acuna and Dansby Swanson to open the fourth then hung a first-pitch curveball over the plate for Freeman, who blasted off the batter’s eye in center for his second home run in as many games but just his fourth since June 19.

In the 19 games since, Freeman has cooled off a bit, slashing .250/.321/.461 with a .782 OPS and was just 1-for-12 during Atlanta's three-game sweep of the Padres to open the second half.

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“I’m feeling a little better,” Freeman said. “I felt a little better in BP. Still a little late on some heaters and early on some change-ups. I’ll take that as not feeling good with today’s result.”

Fried worked out of a jam in the bottom of the inning. Keston Hirua reached on a leadoff ground-rule double to the corner in right but after stealing third, was caught trying to come home on Orlando Arcia’s infield chopper.

“I saw the ball kind of dribble and I was expecting him to stay then I saw him break toward the plate,” Fried said. “I was just trying to pick up the ball and flip it to home and I saw him break down a little bit. It was more instinctual.”

Fried walked Lorenzo Cain with two outs but kept the shutout intact by getting Christian Yelich to fly out to let, ending the inning and after having his blister examined by the team's medical staff, Fried gave way to Josh Tomlin.

“I finally felt like myself,” Fried (10-4) said. “Executing pitches and let the defense work behind me. Definitely was feeling like I was hitting my groove so it was a little frustrating. I wanted to go out there and pitch. I was throwing well. I respect the decision to try and get this settled before it becomes a bitter issue.”

Ryan Braun sent Tomlin’s second offering to center for his 13th home run of the season, making it a 3-1 game. Tomlin got catcher Yasmani Grandal to look at a cutter for strike three and after Mike Moustakas singled, retired Jesus Aguilar on a line drive to center.

That brought up Hiura, who slammed a 1-1 cutter off the wall in left for an RBI triple to cut the Braves' lead to a run. Tomlin got out of the inning without any further damage.

Three straight singles to open the seventh got one of those runs back and brought Houser’s night to an end. The Braves threatened but couldn't break through against Milwaukee's bullpen but Chad Sobotka, Anthony Swarzak and Luke Jackson kept the Brewers off the board over the final three innings with Jackson working a perfect ninth for his 17th save.

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