ATLANTA, Ga. - Max Fried retired Tampa Bay’s first 14 batters and then insisted it didn’t feel like a special start.
Braves manager Brian Snitker had a different opinion.
Fried took a perfect game into the fifth inning and combined with three relievers on a four-hitter as Atlanta beat the Rays 2-1 on Thursday night.
Dansby Swanson had a run-scoring single in Atlanta’s two-run second inning.
Fried (1-0) struck out seven and walked one while allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander improved to 4-0 in four interleague starts.
“I wouldn’t say it was anything out of the ordinary that felt like anything extra special,” Fried said after lowering his ERA to 2.31 in two starts.
It looked special to Snitker.
“He’s just growing as a pitcher,” Snitker said. “He was efficient. You could tell he was locked in too. He was really focused. It was fun to sit and watch him.”
Luke Jackson, and Shane Greene combined for four outs before Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his second save.
Left fielder Adam Duvall made a diving catch on the warning track of José Martinez’s drive off Melancon to open the ninth.
Following the catch, Brandon Lowe singled before pinch-runner Kevin Kiermaier was caught stealing without a slide on Tyler Flowers’ throw to second base. Melancon struck out Hunter Renfroe to end it.
The 26-year-old Fried struck out the side in the first to set the pace for his dominant start.
Ryan Yarbrough (0-1) allowed two runs on only two hits with three walks in 6 1/3 innings.
The Braves won two home games over the Rays after losing two in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said he remains confident his offense will come around.
“We’ve gone a time through the order and not put any pressure on the pitcher or the defense,” Cash said. “Our offense is going to be fine. We’re going to come around and be fine.”
Fried was perfect before Mike Brosseau hit a single up the middle with two outs in the fifth. Fried picked Brosseau off first base to end the inning.
Following Willy Adames’ two-out double off Fried in the seventh, pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi hit Jackson’s first pitch to right field for a run-scoring single.
Swanson’s second-inning single drove in Marcell Ozuna, who singled and moved to second when Duvall was hit by a pitch. Ozuna scored with a head-first slide as he avoided Mike Zunino’s tag at the plate by reaching his hand to the plate.
Austin Riley’s sacrifice fly drove in Duvall.