Braves left-hander Max Fried turns in another gem in a victory over the Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) — Max Fried was almost unhittable — once again.

Fried has carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in three of his last five starts for Atlanta. The left-hander retired his first 15 batters in a three-hitter Wednesday night, leading the Braves to a 9-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s something I pride myself in, on going to deep into games,” Fried said. “The nights where you’re efficient, you’re not walking guys and not wasting pitches, it’s more about just putting your foot on the gas pedal and just keep going, rather than thinking about it.”

The 30-year-old Fried struggled early in the season, recording a 7.71 ERA through his first four starts. But he has been much better of late.

He struck out six while throwing a three-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Miami on April 23. He struck out seven while pitching six hitless innings in a no-decision at Seattle on April 29. He tossed seven more hitless innings in a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets on May 11.

After a shaky outing against San Diego last week, he turned in another gem against the Cubs.

“Fortunately I get to witness it and be a part of it,” Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “I think him understanding his delivery so well is a big part of it. Being able to put his fastball where he wants to, it opens up every other off-speed pitch I think is the biggest thing.”

Fried, who went 8-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 14 starts for Atlanta last year, struck out nine and walked none in his sixth career complete game. He threw 105 pitches, 72 for strikes.

Ian Happ hit a leadoff double in the sixth for Chicago’s first baserunner. Happ and Dansby Swanson singled in the eighth for the Cubs’ other two hits.

Fried is 3-2 with a 1.70 ERA in his last six starts. He has 36 strikeouts and 11 walks in 42 1/3 innings in the solid stretch.

“Personally, I feel like I haven’t been consistent with my mentality of attacking and staying on the attack,” Fried said. “I feel like I’ve just been kind of dancing around the zone a lot. Tonight I wanted to make a point of emphasis to go after hitters, get early contact and be a little bit more of the aggressor rather than trying to make a perfect pitch on the corners.”

Fried improved to 6-0 with a 1.18 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs. The lefty got his first major league win when he pitched five innings of one-run ball in a 5-1 victory at Wrigley Field on Sept. 3, 2017.

He became the 10th pitcher to win each of his first six starts against Chicago.

“He’s got weapons, man,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s got a bunch of weapons, and you never feel like you’ve got something to sit on, and there was very little in the middle of the plate. … He pitched very, very well.”



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