PHOENIX – On a night when Michael Bourn got caught with his pants down and Dan Uggla made what briefly seemed would be a costly error, Mike Minor shrugged it off and Freddie Freeman muscled up in another Braves win.
Freeman had two homers and a career-high five RBIs, and Minor worked a career-high eight innings – strong innings — to lead the hot-hitting Braves to a 10-2 win in the opener of a four-game series at Chase Field. It was the eighth win in nine games since their 0-4 start.
“Everybody’s hitting,” said Freeman, who had a pair of two-run homers and a RBI double. “That’s something you couldn’t say last year; everybody wasn’t clicking at the same time. Everybody’s doing that now.”
The Braves have amassed 33 runs in their past three games, including two wins against the Mets for their third consecutive series win. They scored eight runs after the fifth inning Thursday.
It felt like offensive overkill on a night when Minor (2-1) didn’t need much help. The left-hander allowed just five hits and two runs (one earned) and struck out nine without walking a batter in the longest outing by a Braves pitcher this season.
“He’s about as good as we’ve seen this year,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “He threw the ball very well. You’ve got to give him credit.”
Minor threw 76 strikes in 112 pitches while setting a career high for innings the second time in a row.
“He was outstanding,” manger Fredi Gonzalez said. “Between him and Freddie Freeman, I think we just watched two pretty good performances. Freddie had a career high in RBIs and Mike went eight innings. And we got a W. Scored some runs when we had to, then added on. Nice job.”
Minor has allowed seven hits, one walk and only one earned run in 15-1/3 innings over his past two starts. He limited Milwaukee to two hits an an unearned run Saturday in 7-1/3 innings.
“It was good for the whole team,” Minor said, “just to go deep in the game and not have the relievers have to go so many innings like they did last year. It really just puts the team at ease…. It’s not really about me, it’s about the offense right now, the defense. They’re making good plays behind me.”
Freeman said Minor’s talent has been obvious to teammates for some time.
“We all knew the potential, and I think everybody’s seeing it now,” Freeman said. “Those lefties that come in and throw 92, 93 [mph fastballs] with a changeup and a curveball like he has, don’t come around very often. He’s putting it all together now, and we’re lucky to see it.”
With the Braves ahead 2-1 , Arizona had a chance to tie in the fourth after starting the inning with two singles. One out later, Aaron Hill singled to left and Martin Prado came up throwing, flinging his body forward as he launched a throw to that cut down Jason Kubel trying to score from second.
Bourn had two singles and a walk, but drew more attention for an incident in the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Braves took the field with only eight players. TV cameras showed Bourn emerge from the dugout bathroom, smiling as he scrambled to fix his uniform pants and belt before running to his position in center field.
It was a moment of levity on a night when the Braves kicked off a seven-game West Coast trip by scoring eight late-innings runs to beat an Arizona team that put its best hitter, Chris Young, on the disabled list Wednesday with a shoulder injury and also played without Justin Upton (sore thumb).
Freeman has seven hits, three homers and 10 RBIs in his past three games, after totaling six hits and one RBI in his previous nine games. The two-homer game was the second of his two-year career.
“Just feeling good at the plate,” he said, “and got a couple of mistakes and was able to hit them today.”
The big first baseman gave up the Braves a 2-0 lead with his first-inning opposite-field homer off right-hander Josh Collmenter (0-1), and pulled a two-run homer to right field in the seventh off lefty Wade Miley to turn a three-run lead to a 7-2 margin.
“With Collmenter on the mound, historically he gives us fits,” Gonzalez said of the right-hander, who allowed one run and six hits in 13 innings of two previous starts against the Braves. “And I thought it was one of those nights.
“We were able to peg away and peg away, then had one big inning that got us over the hump a little bit. We got into their bullpen a little bit and were able to score some runs.”
The Diamondbacks trailed 2-1 when Uggla dropped Henry Blanco’s routine pop fly to start the fifth inning. Blanco went all the way to second on the play and scored the tying run on a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly.
Killing them softly in the top of the sixth, the Braves scored three runs after three consecutive hits on groundballs or soft flies, including Jason Heyward’s RBI double to left. Juan Francisco, filling in for sore-kneed Chipper Jones, followed with a single to center field that drove in two runs including Heyward on an aggressive dash from second and head-first slide.
Blanco rushed and dropped the ball before he could make a tag on Heyward, who pumped his fist as he rose to his feet. Gonzalez said he liked seeing the energy of Heyward, who’s hitting .348.
“He’s doing everything, he really is,” Gonzalez said. “It’s nice to watch. And he’s healthy — that’s the biggest thing.”
The Braves, so moribund while totaling 10 runs in a four-game losing streak to start the season, are now playing with enthusiasm and firing on most or all cylinders on a regular basis.
“We’re putting together some good innings and we’re not stopping,” Freeman said. “We keep grinding out at-bats and not letting up till the end of the game.”