Fried pitches a 3-hitter and Ozuna homers to help the Braves beat the Cubs 9-2

By JAY COHEN AP Baseball Writer

CHICAGO (AP) — Max Fried struck out nine while throwing a three-hitter for his second complete game of the season, and the Atlanta Braves beat Justin Steele and the Chicago Cubs 9-2 on Wednesday night.

Marcell Ozuna, Matt Olson and Adam Duvall homered for Atlanta, which had dropped five of six. The Braves were 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position one night after they went 0 for 14 in those situations in a 10-inning loss in the series opener.

Fried (4-2) retired his first 15 batters before Ian Happ hit a leadoff double in the sixth. Happ and Dansby Swanson singled in the eighth for Chicago’s other two hits.

“Tonight I wanted to make a point of emphasis to go after hitters, get early contact and be a little bit more of the aggressor rather than trying to make a perfect pitch on the corners,” Fried said.

Fried improved to 6-0 with a 1.18 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs. The left-hander got his first major league win when he pitched five innings of one-run ball in a 5-1 victory at Wrigley Field on Sept. 3, 2017.

The 30-year-old Fried also finished a 5-0 victory over Miami on April 23, striking out six in a three-hitter.

“It’s something I pride myself in, on going to deep into games,” Fried said.

Steele was charged with five runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA in four starts since returning from a left hamstring injury.

Steele (0-2) retired his first six batters before Michael Harris II hit a leadoff single in the third. Duvall then connected for his third homer, a 423-foot drive to center.

“Definitely could throw that pitch again and get popped up or something and it shows up a little different in the box score,” Steele said. “But there’s guys that are over there just as good as I am. He did a good job with it.”

The Braves broke it open with six runs in the seventh. Ozuna hit a three-run shot off Jose Cuas with two out, and Olson followed with a drive to right for an 8-1 lead.

Ozuna’s 15th homer on the eighth pitch of his at-bat extended his hitting streak to 15 games. It was Olson’s seventh homer on the year. The duo also hit back-to-back homers off Dylan Cease during a 6-5 loss to San Diego on Monday.

Atlanta had scored a total of 14 runs in its previous six games.

“We get a few of those guys going, I think it will relax everyone else,” manager Brian Snitker said, “and have a chance to, I think, look more like us.”


Braves: Following an off day, C Sean Murphy (strained left oblique) is expected to serve as the designated hitter in his second rehab game with Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday. … 3B Austin Riley (left side tightness) did some more work in an indoor batting cage.

Cubs: RHP Adbert Alzolay (right flexor strain) saw a doctor, and he is shut down from throwing for at least two weeks most likely. Alzolay missed part of September while he was on the IL with a right forearm strain. “It’s essentially the same injury,” manager Craig Counsell said, “a degree of the same injury.” … LHP Drew Smyly (right hip impingement) could make another rehab appearance after he pitched three hitless innings for High-A South Bend on Tuesday. But the plan was still being discussed. Counsell said Smyly is expected to be activated at the latest by next week.


Atlanta right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver (1-0, 4.26 ERA) and Chicago right-hander Ben Brown (1-1, 3.57 ERA) will start the series finale Thursday.