Bold base running by Michael Harris II paid off as the Atlanta Braves knocked off the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5. The Braves, left 13 runners on base Wednesday night but were able to push across just enough runs to squeak out the W.
Max Fried took the hill for the Braves and looked outstanding for three innings. Unfortunately a shaky, high-pitch count fourth knocked him out of the game early. Thankfully, the Braves bullpen pulled through.
The Braves threatened in the top of the 1st but came away empty. After Ronald Acuña Jr. led off with a strikeout, the Braves loaded the bases, as Ozzie Albies singled, Austin Riley doubled, and Matt Olson walked. Unfortunately, Sean Murphy grounded into a double play to end the inning.
After a perfect bottom of the 1st by Max Fried, the Braves broke through in the 2nd. After Pirates' starter, Quinn Priester recorded two quick outs, Orlando Arcia doubled off the wall and Michael Harris II singled him in to make it 1-0. Acuña Jr. struck out for the second time in two innings to end the top of the 2nd.
Fried worked around a one-out double in the bottom half of the second by striking out the next two batters on 96 MPH fastballs.
The Braves added another run in the 3rd after Austin Riley singled, advanced to 2B on a groundout, and scored on a single by Sean Murphy that would have been catcher's interference had it not landed for a single.
Max Fried got two quick outs in the 3rd (thanks in part to an outstanding play by Austin Riley), but the Pirates threatened with back-to-back singles. That threat was quickly squashed, however, when Andrew McCutchen bounced out to Riley.
The Braves added on in the 4th, with two more runs with two out after Ronald Acuña Jr. knocked in Eddie Rosario on a double down the line and Ozzie Albies knocked him in with a single.
Max Fried ran into trouble in the bottom of the 4th. After getting Connor Joe to fly out, the Braves lefty walked Henry Davis, allowed a single to Endy Rodriguez, and hit Jack Suwinski to load the bases. On a 2-2 count, he got Jared Triolo to hit a weak grounder to SS. Unfortunately, Arcia wasn't able to get a throw off quickly enough and the Pirates scored their first run of the game on an infield single.
Alika Williams then grounded out to Arcia to make it 4-2. With runners on 2B and 3B, Ke'Bryan Hayes hit a chopper up the middle, which snuck through and tied the game. Fried managed to get Bryan Reynolds to ground out to end the inning and his day.
Angel Perdomo took over for the Pirates on the mound in the top of the 5th and struck out three, with Ozuna's two-out single being the only blemish.
Collin McHugh relieved Fried in the bottom of the 5th and pitched a quick nine-pitch inning.
The Braves broke the tie in the top of the 6th. With one out and runners on the corners, Ozzie Albies hit a soft fly ball into CF to bring home Harris. Acuña and Albies advanced on a passed ball, but Austin Riley struck out and, after a Matt Olson intentional walk, Sean Murphy grounded out on the first pitch, keeping the score at 5-4.
McHugh returned to the mound for the bottom of the 6th and was perfect yet again, taking care of the Pirates in 12 pitches.
Colin Selby, who had taken over for the Pirates in the 6th to face Acuña, took care of the Braves in 10 pitches and struck out two.
With a low pitch count, Brian Snitker sent McHugh back out for his third inning of work. This, unfortunately, backfired. After striking out Alika Williams, McHugh allowed a game-tying solo shot to Ke'Bryan Hayes. McHugh struck out Bryan Reynolds, but Snitker then went to the bullpen and brought in Pierce Johnson.
Johnson allowed a single to Andrew McCutchen but managed to get out of the inning without further damage by striking out Alfonso Rivas.
Michael Harris II used his speed to beat out a groundball to the SS to lead off the inning. After Acuña singled, Albies grounded into a forceout to bring up Austin Riley. Riley hit a popup into shallow RF, which the 2B Triolo fielded.
Harris tagged and was initially called safe but the umpires overturned it saying he left early. However, the Braves challenged and it was clear that Harris had not left early. This gave the Braves a 6-5 lead.
The Pirates intentionally walked Matt Olson, as Ozzie Albies had moved over to 2B on the sacrifice fly, and Sean Murphy walked to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Braves weren't able to capitalize on it, as Ozuna struck out to end the inning.
Pierce Johnson came back out for the bottom of the 8th and recorded one out, but Brian Snitker went back to the pen after Johnson walked Endy Rodriguez.
Minter struck out Suwinski after a seven-pitch battle, but Triolo would reach on an error by Austin Riley, putting the go-ahead runner on base. Minter, however, got Williams to hit a routine fly ball right at Harris to end the inning.
The Pirates were able to work around a 2-out walk to Harris by striking out Acuña to end the inning.
The Braves brought out Raisel Iglesias to close things out. Iglesias was pitching for the third straight day, and it showed. After getting two quick outs, Iglesias wasn't able to put away Andrew McCutchen, who singled after an 8-pitch AB.
Alfonso Rivas followed with a single of his own, and McCutchen was able to advance to 3B, as it was a full count.
This brought the Pirates rookie Henry Davis to the plate. With a chance to tie or win the game, Davis only saw three pitches, swinging through the first two, and looking at the final pitch of the game, which just clipped the zone.
With tonight's win, the Braves improve to 72-40, maintaining the 10.5 lead it has over the 2nd-place Phillies, who won tonight thanks to a Michael Lorenzen no-hitter.
The Braves will play the final game of this four-game series against the Pirates tomorrow at 12:35 PM as Bryce Elder takes on Bailey Falter.