By GEORGE HENRY
ATLANTA (AP) — Max Fried is finding it easier this season to command his fastball now that he has opponents worried about his slider.
“It was big,” he said. “I thought my fastball command was really good, too, for most of the night. Just being able to locate to both sides, up and down, was working really well with (the catcher) tonight. I got in a nice rhythm.”
Fried pitched six-plus innings and won his sixth straight decision, Tyler Flowers hit a three-run homer and the surging Atlanta Braves beat the Chicago White Sox 10-7 on Friday night.
Freddie Freeman drove in two runs and Ozzie Albies went 4 for 5 to help the NL East-leading Braves, who have won 10 of 12 to stay 5½ games up in the division.
Fried (15-4) faced the minimum before Eloy Jiménez reached with one out in the fifth on a slow-rolling single down the line at third. The 25-year-old lefty allowed five hits and four runs — three earned — and matched a career high with 11 strikeouts. He is tied with Washington’s Stephen Strasburg for the NL lead in wins.
“I think it’s just trying to simplify things and not overthink,” Fried said. “Sometimes when you’re out there alone you can overthink situations, maybe manifest something that isn’t there. Trying to simplify everything and get it back down to its simplest form, execute pitches and not try to complicate it.”
The Braves led 4-0 in the second. Josh Donaldson got it going with a walk and used a headfirst slide to score from second on Dansby Swanson’s single. Flowers’ 10th homer landed in the first few rows of the left-field seats.
Atlanta went up 5-0 in the fourth when Albies doubled and scored on Freeman’s double. The Braves led 6-1 in the sixth when Albies’ infield single scored a runner from third.
Chicago starter Iván Nova (9-11) allowed eight hits and five runs — four earned — in four innings. He had posted a 0.94 ERA in seven starts since July 22, the best in the majors over that span.
Adam Engel lined an RBI single to cut the lead to 5-1 in the fifth for Chicago. The White Sox scored four runs in the seventh when Yolmer Sánchez chased Fried with an RBI single and Welington Castillo added a pinch-hit, three-run homer off Luke Jackson.
“We tried to do everything we could to minimize the damage, and they ended up tacking on a few more runs and putting together some good at-bats,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. “I know we kept battling. We had some guys scoring some runs late. We pushed them into having to bring in their closer. No quit, to say the least.”
Adeiny Hechavarria’s pinch-hit, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh put Atlanta up 8-5. In the eighth, Freeman singled to drive in a run and scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 10-5.
Anthony Swarzak gave up two runs in the ninth, prompting Braves manager Brian Snitker to bring in closer Mark Melancon. With a runner on third, Melancon struck out Tim Anderson, his only batter, to earn his fifth save in five chances with Atlanta.
The Braves tied a season-high at 28 games over .500.
White Sox: OF Jon Jay (right hip) will undergo surgery and will miss the rest of the season. The 34-year-old Jay began the season on the injured list with a hip strain and wasn’t activated until June 24 in the journeyman’s only season with the team. He hit .267 with no homers and nine RBIs in 47 games.
Braves: C Brian McCann (left knee) will return from the injured list Sunday. … Austin Riley (right knee) has six hits in his last 14 at-bats of a rehab assignment, but it’s too early to give an immediate timetable for his return. … RF Nick Markakis (left wrist) played catch for the first time, but still hasn’t been cleared to take swings. Though Snitker said Markakis is ahead of schedule, the 2018 All-Star likely won’t return until mid-September.
Freeman began the game with the NL lead in RBIs and added two more to reach 109 and tie his single-season career high in 2013.
Fried also struck out 11 on June 30, 2018, at St. Louis.
Renteria was ejected after he argued with home plate umpire Brian Knight during a pitching change in the seventh. Renteria said he was upset with a pitch that Knight called a ball and loaded the bases.
White Sox: RHP Reynaldo López (8-11, 5.08 ERA) will make his 28th start of the season. He has a 2.82 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break.
Braves: LHP Dallas Keuchel (5-3, 3.78 ERA) will make his 14th start since joining the Braves mid-season. Keuchel is 4-4 with a 3.49 ERA in nine career starts against the White Sox.