Austin Riley delivered again to help the Atlanta Braves extend their winning streak to three straight with a 12-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Atlanta had plenty of opportunities throughout the game but failed to deliver as they started the game 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position. That all changed in the seventh inning when Austin Riley stepped to the plate with two men aboard and lined a slider from Kyle Crick right down the line in right and out for a three-run home run to put the Braves in front 6-5.
Atlanta poured it on in the eighth adding three big insurance runs to the scoreboard. Dansby Swanson led off with a single and advanced to third on a double by Freddie Freeman. That double was the 300th of Freeman’s career making him just the fifth Brave with at least 300 doubles and 200 home runs in his career.
That set the stage for Josh Donaldson who jumped on a hanging breaking ball and drove it way out to left center to increase the lead to 9-5.
The floodgates opened again in the ninth. Charlie Culberson scored on a RBI groundout by Swanson and then Freeman followed with his 15th home run of the season to make the score 12-5. In all, the Braves scored 10 unanswered runs and nine from the seventh inning on.
The late heroics helped overcome a shaky outing by Max Fried. Atlanta plated a run in the top of the first but Fried struggled with his command allowing four runs in the bottom half of the inning including a two-run home run by Melky Cabrera.
The Braves cut the lead to 4-2 with a run scoring ground out by Tyler Flowers in the second but Cabrera struck again in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI single to push the lead back to 5-2.
Fried would exit after four innings having allowed nine hits and five runs to go along with two walks and three strikeouts.
Atlanta crawled closer in the sixth when pinch hitter Matt Joyce singled home Riley to cut the deficit to 5-3. Josh Donaldson worked a one out walk in the seventh and moved up to second when Nick Markakis reached on an error by left fielder Bryan Reynolds. Riley took care of the rest, giving the Braves back the lead for good.
The homer was Riley’s ninth of the season and gives him 25 RBIs in just 18 games. Swanson banged out two more hits giving him 21 in his last 15 games. Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr. finished with two hits each.
The series will continue on Tuesday with Kevin Gausman matching up against Joe Musgrave.