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Braves hope hot bats carry them to series win vs. Pirates

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The resurgent bats of third baseman Austin Riley and shortstop Dansby Swanson have been crucial to Atlanta’s recent success.

The Braves, who have scored 26 runs over the past two games, will try to close the four-game series with a third straight win when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon.

The pitching matchup features Atlanta left-hander Max Fried (1-2, 5.46 ERA) against Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (3-3, 3.27).

Riley was 2-for-4 and Swanson was 1-for-4 on Saturday to extend their recent streaks of success. Riley extended his hitting streak to seven games and is batting .364 (39-for-107) since April 17; he hit only .190 in the first 14 games of the season. Swanson is 7-for-12 with two homers in the Pittsburgh series and is hitting .391 (9-for-23) on the homestand.

“(Swanson) has really been working at it,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s good to see. It’s more like the hitter I expect him to be. To his credit he hasn’t gotten down. He’s been working hard every day. It’s good to see it paying off for him.

“(Riley) is making strides, too. He’s staying in the gaps, not trying to jerk it. He’s another one who continues to work every day. His approach has been good. Again, we can see the power this guy’s got is just crazy. He’s driving the ball the other way and that’s really nice.”

Fried will be making seventh start of the season. He has shown his old form since returning from a stay on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. In his past three starts, he’s allowed a combined three earned runs to go along with 18 strikeouts in 17 innings. In his most recent start against the New York Mets on May 17, Fried took a loss despite allowing only one run in six innings with eight strikeouts.

Fried gave up five earned runs in four innings in his lone previous start against the Pirates, which came in 2019.

Brubaker will be making his ninth start. He lost a 5-2 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesay, allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings in what was his worst outing of the season. But Brubaker battled and retired eight of 10 batters over the final 2 2/3 innings.

“We talk about moments of a younger player getting better,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “That very easily could have been a three-inning start for him. He didn’t execute pitches early on, then turned it up a little bit. It was good to see.”

Brubaker has been a solid contributor, allowing two or fewer earned runs in six of his eight starts. He has never faced the Braves.

The Braves have hit 10 home runs over the past two games and lead the league with 75.

The Pirates continue to struggle to score and fell to 4-23 when scoring three or fewer runs.

They managed only seven hits on Saturday, just one for extra bases, but one of the hits came from Adam Frazier, who went 1-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to eight games.

Frazier, who was a Braves fan while growing up just outside Athens, Ga., is 6-for-12 in the first three games of the series.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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