The Atlanta Braves have been stale since the start of the second half of the season, losing seven of their last ten games, but still hold a ten-game lead for first place in the NL East. Looking to bounce back, the Braves returned home to start a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Braves are no strangers to the Brewers this season, having played them just last week at their home stadium in Milwaukee, with the Braves winning two-of-three in that series. Now, they play the Brewers once again, this time in Truist Park in Atlanta. Recently acquired pitcher Yonny Chirinos got the starting nod for the Braves on Friday night.
The Brewers scored first in the top of the second when Milwaukee hitter Sal Frelick scored on a ground out ball. Tyrone Taylor would increase the Brewer's lead with a RBI single before Chirinos was able to end the inning, preventing further damage. The Braves trailed the Brewers 0-2.
Luckily for the Braves, the bats woke up in the bottom of the second. With Marcell Ozuna on third base and Eddie Rosario on second base, Orlando Arcia hit a ground single to bring in Ozuna and Rosario to tie the game at 2-2.
The offense didn't stop there. Michael Harris II followed with his own single to bring Arcia to second base. In the following at-bat, Ronald Acuña Jr would once again hit a single on a line drive to right field, brining in Arcia to home plate with the Braves taking the lead at 3-2 heading into the third inning.
Chirinos began to struggle on the mound in the top of the fourth, loading the bases through a single, wild pitch, a walk, and a single, with no outs. After striking out two batters, Milwaukee's Joey Weimer hit a two-run single to put the Brewers back in front, 4-3, ending Chirinos' night on the mound.
In his Braves debut, Chirinos final statline was 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, with a 4.34 ERA. Collin McHugh replaced him out of the bullpen, striking out Milwaukee's Christian Yelich to end the top of the fourth inning.
Now trailing 3-4 in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Braves responded with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth from Marcell Ozuna, his 19th homer of the season, to tie the game at 4-4. However, the Braves were unable to take the lead, with Arcia striking out on a batter violation and Harris II flying out to center field, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Acuña singled, which he followed by stealing second base, marking his 49th steal of the season. Ozzie Albies would hit his own single, bringing in Acuña to home for the Braves to take back the lead, 5-4. With Albies at first base, Austin Riley hit a single to bring Albies all the way to third base, putting runners at the corners and ending the night for Milwaukee's starting pitcher Adrian Houser.
LHP Hoby Milner replaced Houser on the mound for the Brewers in the bottom of the fifith. In his first few pitches, Matt Olson his a sacrafice fly to bring in Albies, increasing the Braves' lead to 6-4. Sean Murphy would get walked, putting runners at first and second base, but the Braves couldn't increase the lead as Rosario striked out to end the inning.
Pierce Johnson took over pitching duites for the Braves to start the sixth inning. This marks Johnson's second appearance with Atlanta, after recently being acquired via trade with the Colorodo Rockies. Johnson allowed a hit but striked out a batter and was able to end the inning thanks to a double play from Arcia and Olson.
Next out of the Braves bullpen was Joe Jiménez in the seventh inning. On the mound, he allowed a double to former Brave Wilson Contreras but the the Braves' defense prevented the Brewers from scoring, bringing up the Braves' offense, with Austin Riley hitting a solo home run, his 23rd of the season as well as his seventh home run in his last nine games. The Braves now led 7-4.
That wasn't enough of the homers for the Braves, however, as hOlson would immediately follow Riley with his own home run to make it a 8-4 Braves lead. It marks Olson's 33rd home run this season, which leads the National League this season.
With Olson's home run, the Braves looked like they had control of the game. Murphy slammed a single into left field, followed by a double from Ozuna. With runners at second and third, Rosario launched a single to bring Murphy and Ozuna home to increase the Braves' lead further, 10-4, in the bottom of the seventh.
The Brewers wouldn't go down with a fight. In the top of the eigth inning, Braves pitcher Ben Heller gave up a three-run homer to Abraham Toro to make it a 10-7 ballgame. Heller was replaced by Kirby Yates, who was able to prevent the Brewers from causing further damage, brining the game into the bottom of the eigth. Raisel Iglesias came in in the top of the nineth, closing the game on 10-7 Braves victory.
While there is still work to be done, Friday night's win is what the Braves needed amid their slide in the second half of the season. With the series ongoing, Tuesday's trade deadline is rapildy approaching. It will be interesting to see what the Braves decide to do, especially with their bullpen, which showed some issues on Friday night.
The Braves pick it up again tommorow evening for Game 2 of the series, which is currently scheduled for a 7:20 PM EST start time at Truist Park. Bryce Elder is expected to start for the Braves on Saturday.