Braves throw 2-hitter, blank Astros 2-0 for 2-1 Series lead

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ATLANTA – Rookie right-hander Ian Anderson and the Braves’ bullpen took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning, Austin Riley and Travis d'Arnaud drove in runs and Atlanta beat the Houston Astros 2-0 Friday night to grab a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

Anderson and four relievers combined on a two-hitter.

Pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz blooped a single leading off the eighth against reliever Tyler Matzek that dropped in front of left fielder Eddie Rosario, just 232 feet from home plate, for Houston’s first hit.

Alex Bregman grounded a single through the wide-open right side of a shifted infield leading off the ninth against closer Will Smith, who remained perfect in five save chances this postseason.

Riley’s RBI double in the third off Astros rookie starter Luis Garcia put Atlanta ahead, and d’Arnaud hit a 437-foot homer off Kendall Graveman in the eighth. It was d’Arnaud’s second home run of this World Series and first long ball at home this season.

Of the 60 previous times the Series was tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner went on to win 39 times – including six of the last nine.

Rosario walked leading off a 43-pitch half-inning in the third. Freddie Freeman singled and Garcia left an 0-1 cutter over the plate that Riley lined between Bregman and third base, down the left-field line for an RBI double.

Jorge Soler walked, but Garcia stranded the bases loaded when Adam Duvall fouled to first and d’Arnaud struck out.

The Braves, who stranded nine runners, improved to 6-0 this postseason at Truist Park, which opened in 2017 and where they have won 11 of their last 12 games. Atlanta stopped a five-game home World Series losing streak.

Houston, the top-hitting team in the majors during the season with a .267 average, was limited to two hits, three walks and two hit batters.

The 23-year-old Anderson pitched through spotty control, striking out four and walking three. A.J. Minter and Luke Jackson followed with an inning each.

Diaz’s hit ended the longest no-hit bid in the Series since Game 2 in 1967. Boston ace Jim Lonborg pitched a one-hitter and allowed a two-out double in the eighth to St. Louis’ Julian Javier.

Pinch-runner Jose Siri stole second with two outs in the eighth and went to third when d’Arnaud’s throw skipped into center field for an error, but Siri was stranded when Michael Brantley popped out against Matzek.

“I just didn’t want to let the boys down,” Matzek said.

While the Astros’ Dusty Baker (72) and the Braves’ Brian Snitker (66) had the highest combined ages of World Series managers, they lifted their starting pitchers on the timetable triggered by modern metrics – after exactly 18 batters each, not wanting leadoff hitters to face the same pitcher for the third time.

In the Series for the first time since 1999, the Braves won at home for the first time since the sixth and final game of the 1995 World Series against Cleveland.

Anderson, who is 4-0 in eight career postseason starts over two major league seasons, had the second-longest no-hit bid by a rookie starter in World Series history behind Jeff Tesreau for the New York Giants in the 1912 opener, broken up when Boston’s Tris Speaker tripled with one out in the sixth.

Anderson hit a batter and threw just 39 of 76 pitches for strikes before he was pulled by Snitker.

“It was fine. I have the utmost trust in Snit and the bullpen, those guys coming in,” Anderson said. “You don’t get a nickname if you’re not shutdown like they are.”

Garcia gave up three hits in 3 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and four walks, throwing just 72 pitches and coming out after getting the first two outs of the fourth with just two pitches

This was the eighth matchup of rookie starters in the Series, the first since Detroit’s Justin Verlander and St. Louis’ Anthony Reyes in the 2006 opener. None of the Braves had faced Garcia coming in, and Marwin Gonzalez was the only one to have batted against Anderson (0 for 3).

Daylong rain stopped about an hour before the game, which started with a 49-degree temperature on a damp night. The Braves became the first team to host the Series in six ballparks after Boston’s Fenway Park (1914) and Braves Field (1948), Milwaukee’s County Stadium (1957, ’58), Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium (1991, ’92, 95, `96) and Turner Field (1999).

HAMMERIN’ HANK

Major League Baseball held a pregame tribute to Hank Aaron, the former Braves star and executive who died in January. Hank Aaron Jr. threw the ceremonial first pitch, accompanied by mother Billye Aaron and siblings Gaile and Dorinda.

FAMILY AFFAIR

Baker had hitting coach Troy Snitker go to the plate to exchange lineup cards with his dad, Braves manager Brian Snitker.

UP NEXT

Zack Greinke was expected to start Game 4 Saturday night for Houston, while the Braves go with the first of consecutive bullpen games in response to losing Game 1 starter Charlie Morton to a broken leg.

“Night shift’s ready,” Matzek said.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).