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Sports

Fried rolls as homer-happy Braves shut down Cardinals 3-0

ATLANTA (AP) — Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario hit back-to-back homers, Max Fried threw six strong innings and the Atlanta Braves beat the slumping St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Fried (9-2) and Miles Mikolas (5-7) each threw four scoreless innings before Ozuna led off the fifth with his 17th homer deep into the left-field seats. Rosario followed with his first homer.

Austin Riley and Travis d’Arnaud added back-to-back doubles off Mikolas in the sixth, giving Atlanta a 3-0 lead.

St. Louis loaded the bases against right-hander Jesse Chavez in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Nolan Gorman grounded out to end the threat.

The Braves began the night only 2 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the NL East. Atlanta was 10 1/2 games behind the Mets on June 1.

The Braves flexed their power game with the homers by Ozuna and Rosario.

Atlanta has seven players, including two catchers, with 10 or more homers before the All-Star break for the first time since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966. The Braves lead the NL and rank second in the majors with 126 homers. The New York Yankees began the night with 133.

“That’s kind of how our team is,” manager Brian Snitker said before the game. “… These are big, strong guys who are hitting it.”

Fried gave up only five hits, including two to Albert Pujols, with one walk and four strikeouts in winning his nine consecutive decision after losses in his first two starts.

Left-hander A.J. Minter, who has shared the closer’s role with Will Smith while Kenley Jansen is on the injury list with an irregular heartbeat, pitched the ninth for his second save.

The Cardinals have lost four straight, their longest skid of the season, including the first three of the four-game series against Atlanta by a combined margin of 16-4. They remain three games behind division-leading Milwaukee in the NL Central.

Mikolas allowed three runs on five hits in six innings, ending his streak of allowing no more than two earned runs in five consecutive starts.

Riley leads the Braves with 21 homers, followed by Marcell Ozuna (17), Dansby Swanson (14), Matt Olson (12), catchers Travis d’Arnaud (11) and William Contreras (10) and Adam Duvall (10).

Tommy Edman had one hit as he returned to the leadoff spot for St. Louis after hitting seventh on Tuesday night.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: LHP Steven Matz (left shoulder) is scheduled to throw 40 to 60 pitches for Triple-A Memphis on Thursday. Manager Oliver Marmol said Matz likely will need another rehab start before he comes off the injury list and joins the Cardinals’ rotation. “Do we have a need? Yes,” Marmol said. “Do we want to rush because we have a need? No.”

Braves: OF Adam Duvall is expected to start on Thursday for the first time since he was hit by a pitch on his left hand Saturday at Cincinnati. He played off the bench for the second straight game. … RHP Silvino Bracho was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett after being designated for assignment on Monday.

UP NEXT

The Braves will try to complete a four-game sweep when RHP Spencer Strider (4-2, 2.87 ERA) faces Cardinals LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.66) in a matchup of rookies on Thursday night.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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