Freddie Freeman’s two-run home run in the third gave the Braves a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, as Atlanta received a solid start from Matt Wisler and defeated the Reds, 7-2, on Thursday to split the four-game series at Turner Field.
“It’s huge,” Freeman said. “Definitely when you’re at home you want to go out and win again, and Matt really picked us up today and gave us 6 2/3 of strong baseball.”
Cincinnati jumped out to a first-inning lead for the third time during the series when Brandon Phillips drove in Zack Cozart with an RBI single. The Reds stretched their lead to 2-0 in the third, as Adam Duvall hit his 19th home run of the season.
Chase d’Arnaud led off the bottom of the third with a double down the left-field line and later scored the Braves’ first run of the game on Mallex Smith’s RBI single. Two batters later, Freeman blasted his third homer of the series to hand his team a 3-2 lead.
“Whoever else is coming into town or wherever they’re going, they might be in trouble because he’s some kind of hot right now and we couldn’t figure him out,” Reds manager Bryan Price said of Freeman. “We thought we had a bead on him, and he’s warm — he’s more than warm, he’s real hot.”
Atlanta chased Dan Straily during a three-run fifth inning and added one more run in the seventh, as Wisler shook off the seventh home run he’s surrendered over his past three starts and earned his first win at Turner Field since beating the Cardinals on Oct. 4, 2015.
Wisler settled in after giving up runs in the first and third innings en route to his first win after dropping his last four starts. The righty went 6 2/3 innings, yielding two runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. More >
Straily had thrown 73 pitches through four innings, and his 28-pitch fifth brought his outing to an abrupt conclusion. The right-hander opened the frame with a pair of walks before surrendering a two-run double to Nick Markakis. He was pulled from the game after giving up a single to Adonis Garcia in the ensuing at-bat, ending his day after just 4 1/3 innings. Reds starting pitchers have lasted through the fifth inning just one time in the past five games.
“I’ve got some guys down there [in the bullpen] who are willing to take the ball when they’re out of gas and they’ll continue to come out and pitch, but that’s just not the way you compete,” Price said. “You don’t want to get into situations where you’re finishing a game with your backend bullpen pieces that are already tired, just simply as to finish a game.”
Freeman followed up Wednesday’s performance in which he hit for the cycle with three more hits. He singled in the first inning before hitting a two-run homer to right-center in the third. Freeman singled again in the seventh.
Wisler erased Joey Votto’s leadoff single in the third with a double play, but Duvall made the right-hander pay when he hit a home run in the next at-bat. With his 1-for-3 performance on Thursday, the left fielder is slugging .673 with six homers, 17 RBIs and 12 runs scored over his past 14 games.
Before this series, Freeman had recorded just seven extra-base hits and eight RBIs in his first 32 home games. The first baseman almost matched both of those marks in four games against the Reds, as he finished the series with six extra-base hits and six RBIs.
Rookie right-hander John Gant will take the mound as the Braves open a three-game series against the Mets at Citi Field on Friday. Gant went 4 1/3 innings on Sunday in his first career start, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts in Atlanta’s loss to the Cubs. The Mets will counter with Matt Harvey. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. Thunder Radio will bring you the broadcast at 6 PM as part of the Atlanta Braves Radio Network.