ATLANTA (AP) — Freddie Freeman took an unintended break this past weekend. He was back at work Tuesday night.
The Atlanta slugger homered twice and drove in four runs, leading the Braves past the Miami Marlins 5-1 in another testy game between the NL East rivals.
After going 0-for-12 with five strikeouts during a three-game series against the Dodgers, this was more line with what the Braves expect from Freeman.
“You knew somebody was going to pay,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “It was inevitable. You’re not going to keep that guy down.”
Freeman sent one went the opposite way into the Marlins bullpen against Elieser Hernandez in the fourth. The next inning, he went deep again with two outs to break a 1-1 tie, launching a pitch from Tyler
Kinley (1-1) into the right-field seats for his 33rd homer of the season.
The third Miami pitcher, Austin Brice, didn’t fare any better against Freeman, giving up a two-run single in the seventh.
Freeman now has 102 RBIs — the second 100-RBI season of his career. He had 109 in 2013.
“That was a long three days,” Freeman said, referring to his struggles against the Dodgers. “I took the weekend off.”
Dallas Keuchel (4-5) went six innings, limiting the Marlins to Jon Berti’s third-inning homer — quite an improvement from the eight runs and 10 hits he surrendered in 3 2/3 innings at Miami on Aug. 8. The left-hander benefited from a pair of double plays and stranded six runners, four of them in scoring position.
His last pitch was a high fastball that fanned Jorge Alfaro with runners at first and third.
“We had some chances,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “The double-play balls hurt us more than anything else.”
Hernandez plunked Atlanta star Ronald Acuña Jr. in the back with his very first pitch of the game, rekindling tensions between the teams and leading to Snitker’s ejection.
Last season, Jose Ureña was suspended after he drilled Acuña with a pitch. In May, then-Braves pitcher Kevin Gausman was kicked out for throwing behind Ureña.
Acuña lingered in front of home plate, staring down Hernandez, before being ushered to first. When plate umpire Alan Porter warned both teams against further retaliation, Snitker popped out of the dugout and was given the heave by crew chief Mark Wegner.
“I felt like if they needed to give him a warning, they should’ve thrown him out of the game,” Snitker said. “Especially in light of the past things that happened.”
Mattingly said there was “zero intent.”
“There’s no reason for us to hit Acuña,” the manager said.
Hernandez struck another hitter in the fourth, getting Adeiny Hechavarria on the left elbow, but the umpires took no action. Acting Braves manager Walt Weiss emerged from the dugout and could be seen asking Porter, “What did you give the warning for?”
Marlins: Hernandez was lifted after four innings and 68 pitches because of a blister on his right middle finger. He was listed as day to day. … RHP Pablo Lopez (shoulder strain) is set to throw a rehab start at Triple-A New Orleans on Wednesday, which could be one of his final tuneups before a return to the rotation.
Braves: C Brian McCann left the game after the third inning because of left knee soreness, another potential blow to a team already reeling from a rash of injuries. … OF Austin Riley (knee) worked out on the field before the game and may be able to begin a rehab stint in the minors by the weekend. … SS Dansby Swanson (foot) is set to take batting practice and run the bases before Wednesday’s game, though there’s still no timetable for his return.
Keuchel recorded the 1,000th strikeout of his career when he fanned Hernandez on three pitches to start the third.
The Braves lefty tossed the ball into the dugout as a souvenir, while the crowd gave him a short ovation.
Snitker praised the Braves’ decision to add protective netting all the way to the foul poles at SunTrust Park.
While Major League Baseball has yet to require netting beyond the dugouts, the Braves joined a growing list of teams by announcing Monday that extra protection will go up by the end of September.
“I don’t know of anybody who puts a uniform on that doesn’t embrace it,” Snitker said.
New Braves outfielder Billy Hamilton agreed.
“You never want to see someone get hurt at a baseball game,” he said. “If a kid comes to his first game and gets hit, he’ll never want to come to a game again.”
Braves RHP Julio Teheran will look to bounce back from the shortest start of his career when he goes Wednesday in the second of three games between the teams. Teheran (7-8, 3.71 ERA) lasted just 1 1/3 innings against the New York Mets last Thursday, surrendering six runs. The Marlins will go with LHP Caleb Smith (8-6, 3.63), who is 1-2 with a 5.73 ERA in four career starts vs. Atlanta.
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