Mr. July: Austin Riley lifts Braves to walk-off win for sweep

AP photo by Butch Dill / Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley runs toward first base after delivering the winning hit of Sunday's 1-0 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

ATLANTA - Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley finished his exceptional month at the plate in style.

Now he wants to keep up the momentum from July and help the reigning World Series champions have another special year.

"I use the term consistent," he said. "I think that's the name of the game. My routine is very consistent right now, and I'm feeling good, and I'm getting pitches and I'm not missing them. So I think locked in is the term."

Riley hit an RBI double off Mark Melancon in the ninth inning Sunday afternoon, giving the Braves a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks to sweep the three-game series.

Starting pitcher Max Fried and relievers Dylan Lee and Kenley Jansen (5-0) combined on a four-hitter for the Braves, who at 62-41 moved 21 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 2019 season at 97-65.

Atlanta is 39-14 since June 1, the best record in the majors over that span, but remained three games behind the first-place New York Mets in the National League East standings. The second-place Braves are the division's four-time reigning champions.

Matt Olson singled with one out in the bottom of the ninth against Melancon (3-9) and scored when Riley's double hit the fence in right-center field on two hops. Olson slid head first, easily beating the throw.

photo AP photo by Butch Dill / Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson, center, celebrates with teammates after he scored the winning run on a hit by Austin Riley during Sunday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was scoreless until Riley doubled to right-center field with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Jansen (5-0) walked pinch-hitter Alek Thomas with two outs in the top half, but he was caught stealing second base by catcher Travis d'Arnaud when he took a foot off the bag after passing it with a head-first slide.

Fried, an All-Star who has a 2.09 ERA over his past eight starts, allowed four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings.

Arizona's Merrill Kelly gave up three hits and two walks in seven innings with eight strikeouts, He lowered his ERA to 1.31 over his last six starts.

"He was moving the ball around," Fried said. "Guys were saying you don't know which way it's going, whether it's a ball or a strike. He keeps you off balance. Credit to him. I had to go out there and stay on top of it and get out of some jams knowing that runs were going to be pretty hard to come by today."

Riley became the 21st player with at least 26 extra-base hits in a single month and one of six since 1951. The previous was Richard Hidalgo, who had 27 for the Houston Astros in September 2000.

Riley, who hit .423 with 11 home runs, 25 RBIs and 21 runs scored in July, has 26 extra-base hits in his past 26 games, the first player to do since Rafael Devers for the Boston Red Sox in 2019.

"It's pretty sweet," Riley said. "Anything I can do to help the team win in that fashion is awesome. It was hot out there, so I was ready to get in the AC."

Among players who have hit at least 10 home runs in a month, Riley's July batting average is the highest since Randy Winn batted .447 with 11 homers for the San Francisco Giants in September 2005. The only other Brave in modern franchise history to hit above .400 with 10 homers in a single month was Chipper Jones, who hit .412 with 11 in July 1999, the year he was the National League MVP.

"You see guys go through stretches where they're hitting the ball well for a series or a week, but for him to do it for a whole month, that's extremely special," Fried said. "To see the work that he puts in and the preparation, it doesn't completely surprise me, but to be able to go out there and actually do it, it's special."

Riley's second double was his 27th extra-base hit of July, passing Hank Aaron (July 1961) for most extra-base hits for the Braves in a month. 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 kept him in the park, I think it's a good day."

Arizona's Jake McCarthy caught William Contreras' fly ball in the left-field corner in the second inning but dropped the ball as he tried to transfer it to his glove while running into the wall. With runners on first and second, McCarthy threw to shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, who relayed to third baseman Josh Rojas for one out. Rojas threw to second to complete the inning-ending double play.

Atlanta is 47-8 this season when scoring first, which leads the majors. The Braves had lost eight of their previous nine series finales, and while they have swept six series this season, they were 1-5 in their prior six chances to sweep.

They're off Monday before hosting the Philadelphia Phillies in a two-game set between division foes.