Brewers grab opener, beating Braves in clash of division leaders
MILWAUKEE — Jhoulys Chacin settled down nicely after a rough start.
Trailing 2-0 after the first three batters of the game, Chacin threw seven solid innings and Hernan Perez homered among his three hits, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 7-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night in a matchup of first-place teams.
NL Central Division-leading Milwaukee won its fourth game in a row to go 17 games over .500 (52-35) for the first time since July 1, 2014, when the Brewers were 51-34.
Chacin (7-3) gave up three hits and two earned runs while matching a season high with seven strikeouts in what tied for his longest outing this year. The right-hander, who was 0-2 in his previous three starts while allowing 10 runs in 15 2/3 innings, retired 20 of the last 24 batters he faced.
“Jhoulys pitched excellent — after the first,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “He locked it in and made some really good pitches the rest of the night.”
Left-hander Dan Jennings pitched two perfect innings for his first save this season, and second of his career. Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress was slated to come in for the save with closer Corey Knebel getting the night off, but when the Brewers pushed a 4-2 lead to 7-2, Jennings got the nod for the ninth.
NL East-leading Atlanta dropped its third consecutive game after winning four straight — and lost for the first time this season on a Thursday (7-1).
Braves left-hander Max Fried (1-3) lasted only three innings in his third start of the season, giving up four earned runs and four hits with three walks.
“He had a blister starting and he’s had a history of the blister thing,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “And when it kind of surfaced, I decided I didn’t want to take any chances, so I shut him down.”
Atlanta gave Fried a 2-0 lead in the first, but he allowed a run in the bottom of the frame and did not help his cause in the second. After a leadoff triple by Perez and a walk to Keon Broxton, Milwaukee tied it at 2 on a single by Tyler Saladino. Fried failed to hold the runners on first and second by not even looking at them, so Broxton and Saladino converted a double steal. Erik Kratz’s groundout scored Broxton to give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead.
“We’re getting the right guys out there, trying to do our homework and find spots when we can take advantage of something,” Counsell said.
Then, Fried not only walked Chacin, he fired a wild pitch that bounced off the backstop on ball four. Catcher Tyler Flowers retrieved the ball and threw to Fried covering the plate. But Saladino — who appeared to be an easy out — slid awkwardly in front of the plate and knocked the ball out of the pitcher’s glove. Saladino got up and stepped on the plate for a 4-2 lead.
Christian Yelich hit a run-scoring double in the eighth to make it 5-2, then Perez hit a two-run homer — his fifth — off reliever Dan Winkler.
In the first inning, Ozzie Albies scored from third on a grounder hit by Freddie Freeman. Chacin fielded the ball, looked at Albies and then slowly lobbed a high toss to first which allowed the speedster to score without a throw home.
In the eighth, Winkler’s pickoff attempt at first hit Jonathan Villar in the head and the ball ended up in Milwaukee’s dugout for an error. Villar took second and scored on the hit by Yelich.
Braves right-hander Julio Tehran is not in Milwaukee after coming down with an illness while the team was in New York. Since he was not scheduled to start against the Brewers, the Braves sent him back to Atlanta and he will start Tuesday.
The Brewers activated Saladino (left ankle sprain) from the disabled list and infielder Eric Sogard was designated for assignment. Saladino had been out since May 30.
The Brewers signed first-round draft pick Brice Turang.
The two sides had until 4 p.m. Friday to come to terms on a contract.
Turang, a shortstop, was an LSU commit from California.
“This was a tough decision,” Turang said in a tweet. “It was an honor to be a part of the 2018 Draft, and I appreciate the Brewers for taking their chance on me!”
Milwaukee used the 21st overall pick to select Turang. He was the last unsigned top-10 pick for the Brewers.
Turang’s pick value was $3,013,600, according to MLB.com, and the Brewers were able to give him as much as $3,566,195 without losing a future first-rounder. According to MLB.com, “Turang entered last summer as a candidate to go No. 1 overall, but fell to No. 21 because of a so-so spring rather than unsignability.”
Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (6-4, 2.02), who is 1-1 all-time against Milwaukee, pitches Friday for Atlanta.
He will face Brewers rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta (3-1, 2.28), who will be making his sixth start.