Kelly throws 7 strong innings, Diamondbacks beat Braves 3-2 for 6th straight win
PHOENIX (AP) — Big-time baseball is back at Chase Field and the suddenly surging Arizona Diamondbacks delivered in their first test.
Merrill Kelly threw seven strong innings, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ripped a two-run double and the D-backs won their season-high sixth game in a row by beating the Atlanta Braves 3-2 on Friday night.
It was the opener of a series between two of the top teams in the National League. It’s no surprise the Braves are among that group, but the emergence of the Diamondbacks — who lost 110 games just two seasons ago — has caught some off guard. Arizona is now 12 games over .500 for the first time since 2018 and on its first six-game winning streak since 2020.
“I think there was a little extra zoom in everybody’s behind today, knowing the Braves were in here,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We knew what was going on today and our guys stood tall in the middle of the ring. “I’m proud of that.” Miguel Castro worked a high-wire ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.
The Braves have lost five of their past seven. They threatened in the ninth when Sean Murphy led off the inning with an infield single. Travis D’Arnaud followed with a long fly ball to left that was caught by a leaping Gurriel near the wall for the first out.
Eddie Rosario, who homered twice, followed with a single through the infield that put runners on first and third, but Ozzie Albies hit a shallow fly ball to left for the second out. Then — with more than 27,000 fans screaming — Orlando Arcia hit a comebacker to the mound that Castro snagged and tossed to first to end the game.
“We know we can finish games, we have confidence to finish games,” Kelly said. “The previous couple years, we would have somehow found a way to lose that game.” Rosario hit solo homers in both the second and seventh innings, but that was pretty much it for the team’s offense. It was his first multi-homer game of the season.
The D-backs took a 2-0 lead in the first on Gurriel’s two-out, two-run double into the left field corner that scored Geraldo Perdomo and Corbin Carroll. The Braves cut that lead in half in the second on Rosario’s first homer that landed in the swimming pool behind the right-center wall. Arizona pushed ahead 3-1 in the third on Christian Walker’s double that scored Carroll.
Kelly (7-3) had his latest in a string of impressive starts and now has a 2.80 ERA this season. The right-hander gave up two runs and five hits, walked three and struck out eight. He threw 100 pitches. “Games like that are why we do this,” Kelly said. “It was really good energy against a really good team.”
Atlanta starter Charlie Morton (5-6) was nearly as good, giving up three runs on six hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out nine. “Charlie threw the ball really well tonight,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’re just having a hard time generating any consistent offense.”
Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. came in with 23 stolen bases, which is second in the big leagues behind Oakland’s Esteury Ruiz. The speedy outfielder looked like he had No. 24 in the first inning, beating the throw from Arizona’s Gabriel Moreno, but Acuña’s momentum carried his hand past the bag while Arizona’s Nick Ahmed kept the tag applied.
Acuña was initially ruled safe before Arizona challenged the call and it was overturned. Moreno has caught 56% of the runners who have tried to steal on him this year — the best mark in the big leagues. “It was a big, big momentum change in the first,” Kelly said.
The three-game series continues Saturday night. The D-backs will send RHP Ryne Nelson (2-2, 5.37 ERA) to the mound, while the Braves will counter with RHP Spencer Strider (5-2, 2.97)
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.