|Braves' Fried near history with Nationals up next|
Atlanta starter Max Fried looks to continue to join some pretty lofty company on Sunday when he pitches the finale of the three-game series against the Washington Nationals.
Two more wins would leave Fried (16-5, 4.02 ERA) tied with Hall of Famer Tom Glavine for the most wins by an Atlanta left-hander since 2002. His 16 are the most by a lefty in the National League this season.
Fried will be opposed by veteran Anibal Sanchez (8-8, 4.04) when the two NL East rivals meet for the final time this season on Sunday at Nationals Park.
The Braves (93-57) increased their lead in the NL East to 10 1/2 games over the Nationals (81-66) after a 10-1 win on Saturday. The Braves have won 13 of their last 16. Atlanta's magic number to clinch its second straight division title is four, and it is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs with Saturday's win.
Fried had his seven-decision winning streak broken in his last outing against the Phillies, a game that saw him allow four runs in the first inning. He had gone nine starts without a loss.
Fried's finest effort came in his previous start against the Nationals on Sept. 5. He pitched seven innings and allowed only one hit, striking out nine and retiring 19 in a row before leaving the game.
"That was as good as it gets," catcher Brian McCann said afterwards. "He could throw any pitch in any count. He got ahead and stayed on the attack. That's some of the best stuff we've seen all year from him."
Fried is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA in four career appearances, three starts, against the Nationals.
Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last season, has faced Atlanta four times this season. He's 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA against the Braves, but didn't see them last weekend. In his most recent outing against the Braves on July 31, Sanchez received a no-decision after allowing four runs in five innings.
In 22 career starts against Atlanta, Sanchez is 7-11 with a 4.90 ERA.
Sanchez has allowed two or fewer earned runs in three of his last four starts, the exception a seven-run outing against the Mets on Sept. 4.
He is coming off a good outing against the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 10. He took a hard-luck loss despite allowing only two hits -- one of them a two-run homer in the 5-0 loss --- over seven innings.
"In that situation, it's really hard to think how good (I threw) the first six innings or even that I finished the seventh strong," Sanchez said. "But one pitch, and everything."
The Braves have been encouraged by the return of veteran Nick Markakis, who has six hits since being activated from the injured list on Friday. Markakis looked sharp after missing 44 games with a fractured left wrist. He was 4-for-5 on Saturday with two RBIs.
Atlanta also caught a break when the elbow soreness that caused first baseman Freddie Freeman to leave Friday's game in the fourth inning proved to be no issue. Freeman was back in the lineup on Saturday afternoon.
The Nationals, however, continue to miss the offensive presence of catcher Kurt Suzuki, who has missed six straight games with right elbow inflammation. He resumed baseball activities on Friday and is expected to take on-field batting practice this week.
--Field Level Media