Freddie Helps Braves Stretch Lead to 6 Games, Win 6-5

USA TODAY Sports

Freddie repays the All-Star support, and Kimbrel gets a little redemption.

Today was just Freddie's day.

After Tim Hudson got off to his characteristically bad first inning, Freddie Freeman doubled home two runs to tie the game at 2-2. An inning later, Freddie singled home another run to make it 3-2, and he was off to a flying start. Joey Votto hit a sac fly during the next half inning because the Braves don't like to keep nice things like leads, but the Braves would break things open in the bottom of the 4th.

Hudson struck out to begin the frame, but it was all downhill from there for Reds starter Mat Latos. He would walk Andrelton Simmons as the home plate umpire's strike zone continued to jump around. Reed Johnson, filling in for the injured Jason Heyward - we'll get to that in a minute - would take what should have been strike three on a 2-2 pitch, but given a second life on the called ball, he pulled the next pitch down the line for an RBI triple. Justin Upton, who seems to be coming out of that two-month slump, laced one of his three hits - this one a double - to score Reed from third. Then Freddie stepped to the plate, and as you might expect, he singled home Justin to put the Braves up 6-3.

Tim Hudson was a little wobbly in this one, giving up three runs, but he managed to pitch 7 innings and keep the Braves in the lead, leaving with a 6-4 lead. Jordan Walden came in for the 8th, and he had some bad luck. Cozart rolled a ball toward the hole, and while Simmons got to it, he launched a short hop that Freddie couldn't glove, ending into the stands. He would strike out Votto for the first out, but Brandon Phillips hit a double to right-center that Heyward would have caught, bringing home Cozart. Fredi, rather inexplicably, called for an intentional walk, but Walden responded by striking out Todd Frazier and getting Chris Heisey to fly out to end the threat.

Then came the ninth. Leading off was Devin Mesoraco, and for those who remember the series in Cincinnati, he hit the game-tying home run off Kimbrel in the Reds ninth-inning comeback. Mesoraco lined a ball to left field for a single, but that was all the damage the Reds could muster. Kimbrel struck out Xavier Paul, and he did the same to Shin-Soo Choo, who hit the walk-off home run in the Game We Won't Mention. That left Cozart to weakly fly out to end the game.

The worst part of this game was Jason Heyward's injury. Advancing to third on Justin's 2nd inning infield single, he slid into third and stayed down, grimacing in pain. The trainer and Fredi came out to check on him, and Heyward came out of the game under his own power. He didn't seem to be limping badly, and the diagnosis is currently a strained hamstring. There's no word on how severe, and these injuries can be day-to-day or lingering problems. With the All-Star break headed this way, I expect the team to be rather cautious with Heyward over the next few days.

Win Expectancy Chart

Source: FanGraphs

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