Braves miss chance at late rally in Arizona as Diamondbacks win sixth straight

AP photo by Ross D. Franklin / Eddie Rosario, right, celebrates with third base coach Ron Washington after hitting a home run for the Atlanta Braves during the second inning of Friday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Rosario hit another homer in the seventh inning and went 3-for-4, but the Braves lost 3-2.

PHOENIX — Big-time baseball is back at Chase Field, and the suddenly surging Arizona Diamondbacks delivered in their first test Friday night.

Merrill Kelly threw seven strong innings, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ripped a two-run double, and the Diamondbacks beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 as they won for the sixth straight game, their longest streak of the season.

It was the opener of a series between two of the top teams in the National League. It's no surprise the Braves are among that group, but the emergence of the Diamondbacks — who lost 110 games just two seasons ago, the same year the Braves won the World Series — has caught some off guard.

Arizona is now 12 games over .500 for the first time since 2018 and on its first six-game winning streak since 2020.

"I think there was a little extra zoom in everybody's behind today, knowing the Braves were in here," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "We knew what was going on today, and our guys stood tall in the middle of the ring. I'm proud of that."

The Braves (33-24) are first in the NL East Division, where they're the five-time reigning champions, but they have lost five of their past seven games.

Miguel Castro worked a high-wire ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.

The visitors threatened in the ninth when Sean Murphy led off the inning with an infield single. Travis D'Arnaud followed with a long fly ball to left field that was caught by a leaping Gurriel near the wall for the first out.

Eddie Rosario, who homered twice, followed with a single through the infield that put runners on first and third, but Ozzie Albies hit a shallow fly ball to left for the second out. Then, with more than 27,000 fans screaming, Orlando Arcia hit a comebacker to the mound that Castro snagged and tossed to first to end the game.

The Diamondbacks are tied for first in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 35-23, the best record in the league.

"We know we can finish games, we have confidence to finish games," Kelly said. "The previous couple years, we would have somehow found a way to lose that game."

Rosario went deep in the second and seventh innings for his first multihomer game of the season and was 3-for-4, but he was the only Atlanta player with more than one hit. The Braves outhit Arizona 7-6 but left six runners on base and were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.

The Diamondbacks took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Gurriel's two-out double into the corner in left field, which drove in Geraldo Perdomo and Corbin Carroll. The Braves cut that lead in half in the second on Rosario's first homer that landed in the swimming pool behind the wall in right-center field.

Arizona made it 3-1 in the third on Christian Walker's double that scored Carroll.

Kelly (7-3) had his latest in a string of impressive starts. The right-hander gave up two runs and five hits, walked three batters and struck out eight as he threw 100 pitches.

"Games like that are why we do this," said Kelly, whose ERA is 2.80. "It was really good energy against a really good team."

Atlanta starter Charlie Morton (5-6) was nearly as good, giving up three runs on six hits in seven innings. He walked three batters and struck out nine.

"Charlie threw the ball really well tonight," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We're just having a hard time generating any consistent offense."

Atlanta's Ronald Acuña Jr. came in with 23 stolen bases, second in the majors behind Esteury Ruiz of the Oakland Athletics, and the speedy right fielder looked like he had No. 24 in the first inning. Acuña beat the throw from Gabriel Moreno, but his momentum carried his hand past the bag while Nick Ahmed kept the tag applied.

Acuña was initially ruled safe before Arizona challenged the call and it was overturned. Moreno has caught 56% of the runners who have tried to steal on him this year, the best mark in Major League Baseball.

"It was a big, big momentum change in the first," Kelly said.

The three-game series continues Saturday night, when both teams will start right-handers as Arizona's Ryne Nelson (2-2, 5.37) and Atlanta's Spencer Strider (5-2, 2.97) take the mound.