ATLANTA — Shohei Ohtani threw six dominant innings, only to surrender homers to Matt Olson and Orlando Arcia in a stunning outburst that carried the Atlanta Braves to a 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
The reigning World Series champions resumed their winning ways following the All-Star break, getting six shutout innings from Charlie Morton and a sudden dose of long ball after looking totally overmatched by Ohtani (9-5) much of the night.
Mixing all of his pitches to near perfection, the Japanese superstar faced only one batter above the minimum through the first six frames, surrendering a double to Austin Riley leading off the second. Ohtani struck out 11, marking the fifth straight game in which he's fanned double figures, and only went to three balls on two hitters.
After throwing just 71 pitches — 53 of them for strikes — Ohtani appeared to run out of steam in the seventh.
Dansby Swanson led off with a walk and Ohtani left a splitter up in the zone to Olson, who launched a 355-foot drive into the Chop House restaurant in right for his 18th homer of the season and fifth in the last seven games
Turns out, the Braves were just getting warmed up. Riley, Travis d'Arnaud and Eddie Rosario followed with three straight singles, the last of which drove in another run.
Marcell Ozuna flied out, but Arcia — who came on in the third after starting second baseman Robinson Canó left the game with dizziness — sent a drive into the seats in right-center for a three-run homer that finished off Ohtani.
In his first two at-bats, Arcia struck out twice on seven pitches, making contact on just one of them for a foul ball.
The six runs matched the most Ohtani has allowed all season and came after he had surrendered just two earned runs over his previous 45 2/3 innings. The Braves snapped Ohtani's six-game winning streak and, with that one big inning, jacked his ERA from 2.23 to 2.80.
Atlanta wound up sending 13 hitters to the plate in the seventh, tacking on a seventh run via a wild pitch. Ozuna added his 18th homer in the eighth for the final margin.
Given Ohtani's dominance most of the game, Morton played a supporting role. He sure played it well, giving up only two hits and three walks over six innings.
Dylan Lee (2-0) came on in the seventh to claim the win.
Jonathan Villar homered off Will smith in the ninth to break up Atlanta's shutout bid.
The Braves struggled through the first two months of the season but have gone 34-11 since the end of May. They again climbed within 1 1/2 games of the NL East-leading New York Mets, who lost to San Diego 4-1.
Fresh off his hitting-only appearance in the All-Star Game, where he singled and walked in two plate appearances, Ohtani's first career appearance against the Braves drew an overflow crowd of 42,867.
The game began 55 minutes late after a dark, threatening cloud hovered over Truist Park before the first pitch, leading to a precautionary weather delay.
Atlanta RHP Kirby Yates is heading to Double-A Mississippi to continue his rehab assignment from Tommy John surgery after pitching a perfect inning in the Florida Complex League. The Braves signed Yates to a two-year deal last winter knowing he would likely miss much of this season. The team is hopeful he can return in time to add depth to the bullpen down the stretch. The 35-year-old Yates had an NL-leading 41 saves with a 1.19 ERA for San Diego in 2019. He hasn't pitched in the big leagues since making six appearances with a 12.46 ERA for the Padres in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
RH Kyle Wright (11-4, 2.95 ERA) will go Saturday for the Braves in the second game of the weekend series. The Angels will counter with LH Patrick Sandoval (3-5, 3.00).