by Paul Newberry
ATLANTA — Max Fried turned in another strong start for the Braves.
Then he turned it over to the bullpen — and it all fell apart for Atlanta.
Christian Walker homered leading off the ninth and Arizona scored seven runs in the final three innings against the shaky Braves relievers, giving the Diamondbacks a 9-6 victory Tuesday night to begin a 10-game trip.
“To get on their bullpen the way we did, to get some runs out of them late, it’s exciting,” Walker said. “That’s exactly what we want to see.”
Fried, going for his third straight win, gave up his first earned runs of the season and left after the sixth with a 5-2 lead. Ronald Acuna Jr. got the Braves going offensively with a massive, knee-buckling homer, and Johan Camargo’s three-run double in the fifth put Atlanta ahead.
Chad Sobotka and Jesse Biddle didn’t retire anyone as the Diamondbacks pushed across four runs in the seventh to reclaim the lead.
“I was throwing a lot of non-competitive pitches out there,” Biddle said. “I was really bad.”
After Ozzie Albies went deep in the bottom half to tie the game at 6, Walker drove the second pitch from A.J. Minter (0-2) into the seats for his fifth homer.
“I was just trying to keep it simple,” Walker said. “Minter’s got really, really good stuff.”
Adam Jones brought home two insurance runs with a double against Jacob Webb, who was making his major league debut. Acuna had a shot at it, but the ball ricocheted off his glove after a long run into the left-field corner.
“Max had another great outing, good enough to win,” Minter said. “The bullpen came up short. I came up short.”
Yoshihisa Hirano (1-1) claimed the win and Greg Holland earned his third save.
Walker went 3-for-4 with two RBI. Eduardo Escobar also drove in two runs for the Diamondbacks.
With his right knee dipping to the ground as he delivered a mighty swing, Acuna launched a 448-foot shot over the Braves’ bullpen in right-center field, putting Atlanta on the board in the fourth after Arizona jumped ahead 2-0 in the top half against Fried.
Atlanta tacked on four runs in the fifth against Robbie Ray. Fried sparked the outburst with a one-out single and came around to score the tying run on Freddie Freeman’s double into the right-field corner. The Diamondbacks walked Acuna intentionally to load the bases with two outs, but Camargo foiled that strategy with a double to the wall in left-center that brought everyone home.
Fried, who began the year in the bullpen, has quickly become one of Atlanta’s most reliable starters. The 25-year-old left-hander went six innings, giving up seven hits, walking one and striking out three.
Over three starts, Fried has worked 18 innings, giving up 13 hits, two walks and two earned runs with 12 strikeouts. His ERA including two relief appearances is 0.93.
Unfortunately for the Braves, their bullpen has a 5.43 ERA, with a staggering 36 walks in 59 2/3 innings. In this latest debacle, six relievers combined to allow seven runs on five hits, six walks and two hit batters.
Both teams ran themselves out of scoring chances in the eighth.
With two outs and two runners aboard, a pitch got away from Braves catcher Tyler Flowers. Ketel Marte took off for third and appeared to beat Flowers’ throw, only to over-slide the bag and get tagged out by Josh Donaldson.
In the bottom half, Dansby Swanson led off with a double but was doubled off when Flowers lined out to Walker at first base.
Diamondbacks: LHP T.J. McFarland is set to make a rehab appearance Wednesday for Triple-A Reno. He worked a simulated game last weekend, throwing 17 pitches. McFarland has been on the injured list since the end of spring training because of left shoulder inflammation.
Braves: Struggling LHP Jonny Venters went on the 10-day injured list with a right calf strain. In six appearances, the 34-year-old reliever has surrendered six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings for a 20.25 ERA, giving up six hits, two homers and five walks. RHP Shane Carle, who began the season in Atlanta, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill Venters’ spot in the bullpen and pitched a scoreless eighth, working around two walks.
RHP Zack Godley (1-1, 7.41) will go Wednesday night for the Diamondbacks against Atlanta RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 2.84). Godley got a win last season against the Braves, allowing one run over six innings in a 2-1 victory. Gausman will be making his third start after beginning the season on the injured list.
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