Gray allows only 1 hit as Nationals beat Fried, Braves 3-1

Nationals_Braves_Baseball_92959 Washington Nationals starting pitcher Josiah Gray (40) works during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_06130 Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_28275 Washington Nationals' Cesar Hernandez (1) high-fives teammate after scoring in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_86980 Washington Nationals third baseman Maikel Franco (7) hits a single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_00971 Washington Nationals starting pitcher Josiah Gray (40) works during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_26342 Washington Nationals starting pitcher Josiah Gray (40) works during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_27684 Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_84539 Washington Nationals' Maikel Franco (7) is safe at second base as Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies (1) fields the throw after a Braves' error during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_19643 Washington Nationals' Josh Bell hits a double during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_70067 Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) hits the wall in an attempt to catch a foul ball hit by Atlanta Braves' Alex Dickerson (25) during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_74513 Washington Nationals' Juan Soto goes down to the ground after hitting during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_32344 Washington Nationals second baseman Dee Strange-Gordon (9) holds a baseball during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_93301 Washington Nationals designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) wipes water from his face in the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_92444 Washington Nationals' Josh Bell, left, Alcides Escobar, center, and Cesar Hernandez, right, high-five after defeating the Atlanta Braves in a baseball game, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_61557 The Washington Nationals high-five after a win against the Atlanta Braves after a baseball game, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_98231 Atlanta Braves' Austin Riley (27) walks off the field after a loss to the Washington Nationals in a baseball game, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_47950 Atlanta Braves' Austin Riley (27) singles in the ninth inning during a baseball game against Washington Nationals, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Atlanta.
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ATLANTA (AP) — Josiah Gray allowed one hit in five scoreless innings, and the Washington Nationals beat Max Fried and the Atlanta Braves 3-1 on Wednesday.

The Nationals won two of three in the series, dropping the World Series champions to 3-4 on their opening homestand.

The series win was a confidence boost for Gray, making his third career start against Atlanta, and the Nationals.

“When you see guys time and time again and you continue to get them out, it gives you that extra confidence my stuff is still playing,” Gray said. “They’re still having a difficult time in picking up my stuff. It definitely gives you confidence.”

Austin Riley homered off Kyle Finnegan in the sixth.

Gray (1-1) struck out five, walked three and also hit a batter. His only trouble came in the fifth, when he hit Adam Duvall amd walked Alex Dickerson with two outs before striking out Manny Piña.

Fried (0-2) allowed three runs — two earned — and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Gray tried to convince manager Dave Martinez to leave him in the game for the sixth.

“Josiah gave us five strong innings,” Martinez said. “He wanted to go a little longer. I told him he had 82 pitches. That was good enough for five innings.”

Gray, 24, is expected to play an important role in Washington’s rebuilding effort. Beating the Braves provided more evidence the right-hander can lead the rotation.

“It’s really exciting to see him grow and I’m pumped to see what happens next for him,” said first baseman Josh Bell, who had two hits.

Riley reached on an infield single off Tanner Rainey with one out in the ninth for Atlanta’s third hit. Rainey earned his second save when Marcell Ozuna grounded into a double play.

Washington’s first two hitters, César Hernández and Juan Soto, reached with singles. Hernández scored on Bell’s groundout and Soto scored on Maikel Franco’s single, the third hit of the inning, for a 2-0 lead.

Ozzie Albies led off the game with a single off Gray but was caught stealing by catcher Riley Adams’ strong throw to second. Gray didn’t give up another hit and didn’t allow another baserunner until walking Albies to lead off the fourth. Matt Olson then hit into a double play.

JACKSON HAS TOMMY JOHN SURGERY

Braves right-hander Luke Jackson had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in Arlington, Texas. The team announced Dr. Keith Meister performed the season-ending procedure to reconstruct Jackson’s right ulnar collateral ligament.

The Braves said on April 2 that Jackson had damage to the ligament. He was 2-2 with a career-best 1.98 ERA in 71 games in 2021. He had a 0.00 ERA in three World Series games against Houston.

INJURY SCARE FOR FRIED

Fried said after the game he avoided an injury when he was struck on his right leg by Nelson Cruz’s grounder in the sixth. Fried picked up the ball and threw to first in time to record the out. Braves trainer George Poulis checked on Fried, who threw a couple of practice pitches before remaining in the game to allow singles to Bell and Franco.

Fried gave up singles to his next two batters and then was replaced by Collin McHugh.

Fried has a 5.73 ERA in his first two starts.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cruz returned to Washington’s lineup after he was scratched on Tuesday night because of groin tightness. Martinez waited to make out Wednesday’s lineup until Cruz took swings in the batting cage to show he was ready to play.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Joan Adon (0-1, 8.31) will make his first career road start when Washington opens a four-game series at Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Braves: Atlanta begins its first road series of the season at San Diego on Thursday night when RHP Charlie Morton (1-0, 3.38) brings a 6-1 record and 2.09 ERA in nine career starts against the Padres.

___

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