Christian Walker homered leading off the ninth inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied against the shaky Atlanta bullpen for a 9-6 victory Tuesday night as the Braves squandered a massive, knee-buckling homer by Ronald Acuña Jr. and another strong start by Max Fried.
Johan Camargo’s three-run double in the fifth put the Braves ahead. Fried finally gave up his first earned runs of the season but left with a 5-2 lead, only to watch the relievers give it away. Chad Sobotka and Jesse Biddle didn’t retire anyone as the Diamondbacks pushed across four runs in the seventh to reclaim the lead.
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) deep into the seats to start the ninth. Adam Jones brought home two insurance runs with a double that deflected off the glove of Acuña after a long run into the left-field corner.
Yoshihisa Hirano (1-1) claimed the win. Greg Holland got the final three outs for his third save.
With his right knee dipping to the ground as he delivered a mighty swing, Acuña launched a 448-foot shot over the Braves’ bullpen in right-center field, putting Atlanta on the board in the fourth inning 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 Acuña intentionally to load the bases with two outs, but Camargo foiled that strategy with a three-run double to the wall in left-center, pushing the Braves to a 5-2 lead.
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.
Walker went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Eduardo Escobar also drove in two runs.
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.