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Max Fried discusses his struggles in Game 5

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The Braves struck out in their first attempt to close out the NLCS

Championship Series - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Five Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NLCS will shift back to Atlanta for Games 6 and 7 after the Atlanta Braves came up short in their bid to close out the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5. The Braves jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but Max Fried struggled while the Dodgers’ offense finally came to life.

“Physically felt great. Just a really good aggressive lineup, hit some pitches over the middle,” Fried said of his outing. “I wasn’t executing on the corners like I normally do and when you leave the balls over the middle, normally damage happens.”

After Freddie Freeman staked the Braves to a 2-0 advantage in the first, the Dodgers answered back with home runs by AJ Pollock and Chris Taylor in the second to take a 3-2 lead. Both homers came on pitches that were up and over the middle of the plate.

Taylor struck again in the third with a run-scoring single to extend the lead to 4-2. Fried issued a leadoff walk in the fifth, erased that runner with a double play, but then walked Albert Pujols before exiting. He was replaced by Chris Martin who allowed a two-run homer to Taylor on an 0-2 pitch to make it 6-2.

Fried allowed eight hits, two walks and five runs in just 4 2/3 innings. He struck out three while throwing 90 pitches. That was his shortest outing since June 1 and the most runs he had allowed in a start since July 5.

“At the end of the day, it’s playoff baseball. It’s a really good team, won a lot of games, and you got to be on top of your game and bring your best to give your team a chance to win and unfortunately tonight I wasn’t as sharp as I needed to be,” Fried added.

Following a bullpen game in Game 4, the Braves were hoping that Fried would be able to pitch deep into the game to give the bullpen some rest.

“Just location,” Brian Snitker said of Fried’s outing. “It’s just one of them days, couldn’t get the ball where he wanted it pretty much. “I think the big thing is just I think if Max was sharp and we were hoping that he could extend the game. Honestly I was hoping that he would go at least seven innings where we were after the bullpen game and it didn’t work out that way.”

Instead, the game spiraled, but the Braves were able to rest the bullpen with Dylan Lee and Jacob Webb closing things out.

It wasn’t the result Atlanta was looking for, but if there is a silver lining it is that the series will return to Truist Park for the final two games and all of the team’s top relievers will have had two full days of rest. As Snitker has said countless times throughout this series, it is hard to close out a series, especially against a talented team like the Dodgers. The Braves have two more chances to get it done.