ATLANTA — Max Fried hopes a series win against the Los Angeles Dodgers reminds the Atlanta Braves they can still be a playoff team. Back-to-back wins against Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer may help make that point.
Fried outpitched Bauer on Sunday afternoon as Atlanta beat Los Angeles 4-2 on Sunday to take two of three in the first meeting of the teams since the Dodgers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win last year's National League Championship Series.
On Saturday night, the Braves beat the reigning World Series champions 6-4 with three-time Cy Young Award winner Kershaw starting for the Dodgers. Atlanta lost 9-5 in Friday's opener, when the visitors scored eight runs in the fifth inning.
"I just felt like we played really good baseball, complete offense, defense, pitching," Fried said. "We were able to put it all together. This is obviously the type of baseball we feel we can play, and we can build off that."
Albert Pujols hit his 671st career home run and had two hits and two RBIs for the Dodgers (34-25). He homered leading off the ninth inning against closer Will Smith, who regrouped to get his 11th save in 11 chances this season.
Ender Inciarte had a hit and drove in two runs for the Braves (28-29), who have won three consecutive NL East Division titles but have been under .500 all season.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said his team "played a pretty good series against the world champions. It should show those guys we're as good as anybody out there when we play the way we're capable of playing."
Fried (3-3) allowed one run and six hits in six innings, and he had no walks for the first time in nine starts as he threw 65 of 92 pitches for strikes.
In last year's NLCS, Fried was the losing pitcher in Game 6, allowing first-inning home runs to Corey Seager and Justin Turner as the Dodgers won 3-1. He said Sunday's performance wasn't about retribution.
"This is a whole different year," he said.
Bauer (6-4), the 2020 NL Cy Young winner with the Cincinnati Reds, allowed three runs and six hits in six innings and matched his season high of four walks for the fourth time. Two of the batters who reached on walks later scored.
"I felt fine," Bauer said. "Just missing some pitches."
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Bauer "did a nice job," adding: "I'm not worried about Trevor. It could have easily been six innings, one run or two runs."
Atlanta's Dansby Swanson hit cleanup for the first time in his MLB career. The 27-year-old shortstop, who has 10 home runs this season, led off the second with a single to left and scored on Abraham Almonte's double to the wall in center field.
Bauer walked Freddie Freeman with two outs in the third, and Ozzie Albies followed with a run-scoring double past Cody Bellinger in center.
Almonte walked to start the sixth, took third on Ehire Adrianza's single and scored on Inciarte's single. Inciarte's bases-loaded fly ball to left field off David Price in the eighth drove in Atlanta's fourth run.
Justin Turner hit a one-out double in the fourth for the Dodgers' first hit, and Pujols' bloop opposite-field single to right drove in Turner. Pujols hit an inning-ending popout in the sixth that stranded runners on second and third.
Pujols passed Barry Bonds for fourth place on MLB's career list in total bases (5,980). He is fifth on the home run list behind Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696).
Roberts said the Dodgers need more consistent production at the plate. Pujols' homer was the team's first of the series. Entering the series, the Dodgers had hit homers in 13 consecutive games.
"I think the pitching has been really good consistently," Roberts said. " I think offensively we just need to take more good at-bats and be more consistent on that side."