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Aces clash for Braves, Brewers in rubber match

May 7, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes (39) throws against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves and the host Milwaukee Brewers will turn to their aces as they close out a three-game series on Wednesday afternoon in a rematch of the star starters from earlier this month.

Left-hander Max Fried (4-2, 3.14 ERA) gets the nod for the Braves in the rubber game of the series.

The Brewers will counter with right-hander Corbin Burnes (1-2, 1.77), the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner.

Fried stymied the Brewers in his only start against them this season, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts in a 3-2 win over Burnes on May 7. He is 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in four career regular-season starts vs. Milwaukee.

“He goes out there and throws up those zeros and gives you a chance against a really tough pitcher because you knew runs were going to be at a premium,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the May 7 victory. “It was really good. Once he got rolling there, using the whole arsenal, too.”

Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Fried’s ability to throw any of his pitches at any time makes him extremely tough.

“It’s four pitches, there’s no count advantage ever because he’ll throw every pitch in any count,” Counsell said after that game. “There was 2-0 curveballs, 2-0 changeups. When you feel like you get a count in your advantage, he makes a good off-speed pitch.”

Fried also faced the Brewers last season in the NL Division Series, and he earned a 3-0 victory in Game 2. He allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out nine over six scoreless innings.

The Brewers have struggled mightily against left-handers. Milwaukee is 19-6 vs. right-handed starters but 4-8 against lefties after losing 3-0 Tuesday night to Atlanta southpaw Tucker Davidson, who threw five scoreless innings in his first start of the season. It was the fourth shutout loss for the Brewers this season.

“I think we can provide plenty of matchups to be good against left-handers, we just haven’t done it yet,” Counsell said. “We had some opportunities tonight and didn’t get a hit. Plenty of guys on base and just didn’t get the next hit.”

The Braves managed just one run, which was unearned, on Tuesday night off Brewers starter Adrian Houser, but Marcell Ozuna provided the cushion with a two-run homer off reliever Brad Boxberger in the eighth. It was his 19th career long ball vs. Milwaukee, the most against any opponent.

Milwaukee, which stranded 10 runners on Tuesday, has scored just one run in the first two games of the series but managed to win the opener 1-0 on a run-scoring wild pitch.

The Brewers are 18-3 when scoring at least four runs but 5-11 when scoring three or fewer.

Burnes is making his eighth start of the season and second against the Braves. Opponents are batting just .176 against the right-hander, who has received just 19 runs of support in his seven starts.

Burnes is 1-1 with a 10.66 ERA in five regular-season appearances, including two starts, against the Braves — all on the road. In the 3-2 loss to Fried, Burnes allowed two runs, one earned, in six innings.

Burnes also faced the Braves last season in Game 1 of the NLDS. He didn’t get a decision despite throwing six shutout innings in Milwaukee’s 2-1 victory.

If another close game comes down to the bullpen, both closers are in fine form. Atlanta’s Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth Tuesday night for his ninth save in nine chances. Brewers closer Josh Hader registered his 14th save in 14 opportunities on the Monday night.

–Field Level Media