Markakis’ slam, Fried’s pitching lead Braves past Cardinals

Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis follows through on a grand slam during the fifth inning of the team's baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS (AP) Max Fried was so good that he didn’t even need all the support Nick Markakis and the Braves provided for his first win of the season.

Markakis hit a grand slam, Fried took a shutout into the seventh inning and Atlanta beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-4 on Saturday night.

”You’ve got to give all the credit to Max,” Markakis said. ”He went out and pitched one of the better games I’ve seen. For him, two runs early on was enough for him. It was nice to get some runs and give him a nice cushion there.”

The Braves have won the first two games of the three-game set. The Cardinals have dropped three in a row.

Fried (1-2) stymied the Cardinals on 101 pitches before being pulled with two outs in the seventh. Recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to start the game, he struck out 11, allowed four singles and walked three.

”My curveball was definitely on tonight,” said Fried, who also recorded his first major league hit with a single in the fifth. ”I was able to throw it for strikes, put it in the dirt when I wanted to. The big thing for me was getting the fastball over. I felt like I was able to get strike one pretty good. That was my main goal.”

Luke Weaver (4-7) went 4 2/3 innings, giving up 10 runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out five. He gave up homers to Markakis in his final inning and a two-run shot to Ronald Acuna Jr. in the second.

”At the end of the day, I was just done on a couple big swings,” Weaver said. ”I thought I threw some pitches in good spots, but it’s got to be executed a little bit better and you’ve just got to flush these types of days.”

The Braves sent 11 players to the plate in the six-run fifth. After Ozzie Albies doubled in Fried, the Cardinals intentionally walked Freddie Freeman to face Markakis. The right fielder hit his ninth homer of the season and fourth career grand slam off a 3-2 pitch.

”To be honest with you, I was just looking to hit something into the outfield and get a run in, and I ended up one of the better at-bats in the season,” Markakis said. ”I looked back at the video and (the pitch) wasn’t exactly where he wanted it, but he threw it somewhere close to the zone and I put a good swing on it.”

He added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to bring in Albies, finishing with five RBI on the day.

Albies went 3 for 5 and has a 10-game hit streak, batting .467 (21 for 47) during that span.

The Cardinals scored all of their runs in the ninth off Matt Wisler, including a leadoff home run from Jose Martinez.

LONGEVITY

Cardinals C Yadier Molina played in his 1,800th game, joining Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and Enos Slaughter as Cardinals to play in at least that many. Molina entered the majors in 2004 and has spent his entire career with St. Louis. He ranks 12th among active players in games played.

MOVES

To make room for Fried, the Braves designated OF Peter Bourjos for assignment. Bourjos, in his first year with the Braves, was batting .205 in 36 games. He also played for St. Louis in 2014 and 2015.

TRAINING ROOM

Braves: RHP Arodys Vizcaino (shoulder inflammation) is expected to come off the 10-day DL on Monday. The Braves closer threw a side session Saturday and is on target for his return to the team. … C Tyler Flowers, who left Friday’s game with a right hamstring cramp after flying out to end the sixth inning, didn’t start Saturday. The Braves said it was part of the regular rotation between Flowers and C Kurt Suzuki. The two have alternated starts for the past 16 games.

Cardinals: RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement) is scheduled to begin a rehab stint at Triple A Memphis on Sunday. He has yet to appear with the minor league club since going on the 10-day DL on May 16.

UP NEXT

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.14) goes for his first win in a month. After tossing a 4-0 shutout against the Washington Nationals on June 1, he went 0-1 in his final three starts of the month. He failed to get past the fifth in any his final three June outings.

Cardinals: RHP John Gant (2-2, 3.48) is coming off his best start of the season, giving up one hit over seven innings as St. Louis beat the Cleveland Indians 4-0 on Monday. This is his first appearance against his former club since a 2016 trade that saw the Cardinals send starting pitcher Jaime Garcia to the Braves in exchange for three minor leaguers, including Gant.

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