ATLANTA (AP) — Austin Riley had a special month. He just wants to keep up the pace and help the Atlanta Braves successfully defend their World Series title.
“I use the word compatible,” he said. “I think that’s the name of the game. My routine is pretty consistent right now, and I’m feeling good, and I’m getting pitches and I’m not missing them. So I guess lock in term is “
Riley hit a run-scoring double on Mark Melanchon in the ninth inning, giving the Braves a 1-0 win over Arizona and a three-game win over the Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Max Fried, Dylan Lee and Kenley Jensen (5-0) combined on a four-hitter for the Braves, who advanced .500 to 21 games for the first time after ending 2019 at 62-41 at 97-65.
Matt Olsson scored with a single in the ninth against Melloncón (3-9) and scored when Riley’s double hit the right-center fence over two hops. Olsson slips headfirst to beat the throw with ease.
Jensen (5–0) steered pinch-hitter Alec Thomas with two outs in the top half, but Thomas was caught stealing second by catcher Travis d’Arnaud when Thomas tried to cross base with a headfirst slide. After taking out one leg from the bag.
Atlanta had lost eight of their previous series finals. The Braves have won six series this season, but were just 1-5 in their first six chances to sweep.
The Braves are 39-14 as of June 1, the best record among the majors in that period. They finished three games behind the NL pre-leading New York Mets.
Atlanta is a big league-best 47-8 when scoring first.
Fried, an All-Star who has a 2.09 ERA in his last eight starts, allowed four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings.
Arizona’s Merrill Kelly, who delivered three hits and two walks in seven innings with eight strikeouts, reduced his ERA to 1.31 at the start of his last six.
“He was rolling the ball around,” Fried said. “Friends were saying you don’t know which way it is going, be it the ball or the strike. He keeps you off balance. Credit to him I had to go out there and be on top of it and get out of some jams knowing it was going to be very hard to score runs till today. ,
Riley became the 21st player with at least 26 extra-base hits in one month and one in six since 1951. The last was Houston’s Richard Hidalgo, who had 27 in September 2000.
Riley, who scored .423 runs in July with 11 home runs, 25 RBIs and 21 runs, has 26 extra-base hits in his last 26 matches, making Boston’s Rafael Devers the first to do so in 2019.
“It’s so sweet,” Riley said. “Anything I can do to help the team win in that fashion is awesome. It was summer, so I was ready to sit in the AC.”
Among players to score at least 10 home runs in a month, Riley’s July batting average is the highest since San Francisco’s Randy Winn batted .447 with 11 homers in September 2005. The only other Brave in modern franchise history to hit above .400. 10 homers in a single month were Chipper Jones, who scored .412 with 11 home runs in July 1999, the year he won the MVP.
“You see people go through stretches where they’re hitting the ball well for a series or a week, but it’s very special for him to do it for a whole month,” Fried said. “To see the work he puts in and the preparation, it doesn’t completely surprise me, but to be able to go out there and really do it, it’s special.”
life of riley
Riley’s second double break was his 27th extra-base hit of the month, passing Hank Aaron for most extra-base hits for the Braves in a month in July 1961. Riley leads the majors with 61 extra-base hits.
“He might be the best right-handed hitter in the league right now,” Kelly said. “As long as I put her in the park, I think it’s a good day.”
Jake McCarthy of Arizona caught William Contreras’ flyball in the left field corner in second, but dropped the ball as he attempted to transfer it to his glove while running into the wall. With runners in first and second, McCarthy threw to shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, who relayed third baseman Josh Rojas for an out. Rojas finished second in the double game at the end of the innings.
Braves: Open a two-match home series against Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Diamondbacks: Start a series in Cleveland on Monday.
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