NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees ended their skid not with an offensive breakout but with key runs that involved no contact.
Atlanta Braves reliever Nate Jones threw a tiebreaking wild pitch with slumping Clint Frazier at the plate in the eighth inning and forced in a run with a four-pitch walk to Mike Ford, giving the Yankees an unusual 3-1 victory Tuesday night that stopped a five-game losing streak.
“We got kicked in the mouth a little bit last week. I think it was kind of an eye-opener for us,” said left-hander Justin Wilson, who stranded the bases loaded in the seventh by getting NL MVP Freddie Freeman to ground into an inning-ending forceout. “But we’ve got a bunch of grinders. We’ve got guys that want to win like I’ve never been on a team that wants to win so bad.”
Gio Urshela hit a tying home run in the fifth inning off Charlie Morton and the Yankees won with five hits, which left their four-game total at 16. New York went 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position, but the last-place Yankees improved to 6-10 and avoided what would have been their worst start since 1972.
“It’s definitely nice after the week we’ve had. I think guys do exhale a little bit,” manager Aaron Boone said. “But the resolve in that room and the confidence in that room, even though we’ve taken it on the chin here a little bit, hasn’t changed. These guys know they’re going to be a beast and they’re going to be a problem and we’re going to get there and hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Consecutive third-inning doubles by Guillermo Heredia and Ehire Adrianza put the Braves ahead against Jameson Taillon, making his third start since Tommy John surgery in August 2019. Taillon lowered his ERA from 7.56 to 5.40, allowing one run and four hits in five innings with five strikeouts and a walk.
“I want to be the guy who’s going to help us get back in the win column. So going out there, I kind of had that attitude,” Taillon said. “That kind of just put a little fire under me to try to go out there with some energy tonight.”
Morton allowed one run and three hits in six innings, giving up a tying 437-foot home run to Urshela in the fifth that landed on the netting above Monument Park in center.
Tyler Matzek (0-2), who returned to the major leagues last year for the first time since 2015, walked pinch-hitter Aaron Hicks leading off the eighth. Hicks, hitting just .160, was out of the starting lineup along with Rougned Odor and Frazier, as Boone inserted Brett Gardner and Michael Tauchman plus Ford, who made his first appearance this season.
"Looked like Aaron up there, looked like there was some swagger and some confidence and easy layoffs," Boone said.
DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge followed with singles that loaded the bases — just the second multihit inning for the Yankees in two games.
Frazier pinch hit for Gardner, and Jones relieved and bounced a slider past catcher Travis d’Arnaud for a wild pitch that scored Hicks for a 2-1 lead. Frazier popped out, leaving him in a 1-for-25 slide and with no RBIs in 41 plate appearances this season.
Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked, Gleyber Torres flied out to short center and Ford walked on four pitches.
“Kind of an ugly inning all around,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Lucas Luetge, Chad Green, Wilson, Jonathan Loaisiga (2-0 ) and Aroldis Chapman (second save) combined for scoreless, two-hit relief, lowering the ERA of Yankees bullpen to 2.37, second-best in the major leagues behind Toronto.
“Every game is important," Urshela said, "every win, it's important to get that confidence back.”
New York has one run in the first inning in 16 games, a solo homer by Judge in a 5-4 loss to Toronto on April 14.
Freeman says no talks are taking place on a contract that would go beyond the expiration of his $135 million, eight-year deal this autumn.
“I don’t know if we could really talk right now. That would be a distraction, and I don’t like distractions,” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be much talking going on anytime soon.”
Freeman was looking forward to playing in Yankee Stadium and to seeing and hearing the Bleacher Creatures.
“I wouldn’t say they’re friendly to the visiting team,” Freeman said. “We hear our fair share of boos and our personal lives repeated to us.”
Braves: RF Ronald Acuña Jr. was held out and underwent treatment after straining his abdomen when diving back into first base on a pickoff throw Sunday night. “He feels better. I feel like we dodged a bullet there,” Snitker said. ... Loaisiga hit Marcell Ozuna on the right hand with his first pitch of the eighth, a 97 mph sinker. Ozuna stayed in the game. ... 2B Ozzie Albies was 0 for 3 with a walk after missing two games because he was hit on the right calf by a pitch Friday.
RHP Corey Kluber (0-1) starts for New York on Wednesday and RHP Ian Anderson (0-0) for the Braves in the final of the two-game series.