Max Fried was stellar both on the mound and at the plate, newcomer Joc Pederson homered in his first Atlanta start and the Atlanta Braves cruised to a 9-0 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
Fried (7-5) sparkled over seven shutout innings, yielding only four hits and a walk while striking out seven.
He also went 3-for-3, including a two-run double in Atlanta’s six-run fourth inning to gain control of the middle game of its three-game series with the Rays. The teams will play the rubber game of the set on Sunday.
Pederson, acquired Thursday night from the Chicago Cubs, manned right field, batted leadoff and went 2-for-5 with his 12th home run.
Freddie Freeman was 2-for-3 with a homer for the Braves, who broke a two-game losing streak and won for just the third time in 14 games against the American League.
Edgar Santana and Tyler Matzek completed the Braves’ 11th shutout — tying them with the San Francisco Giants for tops in the majors.
Tampa Bay starter Josh Fleming (7-5) started strong but eventually surrendered seven runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Catcher Francisco Mejia mopped up with a scoreless eighth.
Yandy Diaz had two of the Rays’ four hits. They lost for just the second time in their past nine games.
Fried faced the minimum over the first three frames — his only blemish a first-inning single to Wander Franco, who was then picked off first.
However, the Braves sent nine batters to the plate in the fourth inning to blow the game open after chipping away at Fleming for two hits in the third.
Freeman opened the fourth with a single, and Ozzie Albies sent him home with a deep double, and Albies went to third on an error by center fielder Brett Phillips on the play. Austin Riley’s sacrifice fly put the Braves up 2-0.
Fried burned the Rays with two outs after Guillermo Heredia’s double and an intentional walk to Kevan Smith. The pitcher’s second hit of the game, a slicing double to left, plated two more.
Pederson then hammered Fleming’s 1-0 pitch over the right field fence for his first hit with the Braves and a 6-0 lead.
Freeman, who had a four-hit game Friday, swatted his 21st homer to lead off the fifth — his sixth hit of the series – and added a sacrifice fly in the sixth after Dansby Swanson’s RBI double.
–Field Level Media