All-Star Spencer Strider struck out 11 and won his seventh straight decision, a 6-1 victory over the slumping Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night that gave the majors-leading Atlanta Braves their 20th victory in 22 games.
Strider (11-2) joined Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan and Arizona’s Zac Gallen as the only 11-game winners in the majors. He improved to 7-0 over his last eight starts and boosted his majors-leading strikeout total to 166.
Sean Murphy homered for the third straight game, a career best for Atlanta’s All-Star catcher. His three-run shot finished a four-run, fourth-inning against rookie Taj Bradley (5-5), who held the Braves hitless until Ronald Acuña Jr. opened the fourth with a double. He then scored on Matt Olson’s RBI single.
Braves’ Sean Murphy sends a three-run shot to left field, extending the lead vs. the Rays in the fourth inning
Murphy, whose two-run homer was the decisive blow in the Braves’ 2-1 victory Friday night in the series opener, hiked the lead to 4-0 and extended Atlanta’s streak of consecutive games with at least one home run to a franchise record-tying 25.
The Braves have homered in every outing since June 11, the longest active streak in the majors. They also had a 25-game streak in 1998 and lead the majors with 168 homers — the record for a team before the All-Star break.
In clinching the weekend series between the teams with the best two records in baseball, the Braves improved to 60-28. The Rays (57-35) have dropped a season-high seven straight games — their longest skid since June 2021 — but still have the top mark in the AL.
Strider, who will travel to Seattle for the All-Star Game on Tuesday night but will not pitch, allowed a leadoff single to Yandy Diaz and a one-out double to Luke Raley before striking out Randy Arozarena and Brandon Lowe to escape a first-inning jam.
The right-hander fanned seven in a row before hitting Wander Franco with a pitch with two outs in the third and finished with the 11th double-digit strikeout performance of his career. Diaz had two of Tampa Bay’s four hits off Strider, who walked one and threw 104 pitches over 6 1/3 innings.
Braves’ Spencer Strider strikes out 11 in 7 innings of work in 6-1 win over the Rays
The Braves lost a shutout bid in the eighth when reliever Ben Heller walked Franco, who eventually scored an unearned run on a throwing error.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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