NEW YORK – To illustrate how skillfully Jason Heyward has handled all manner of pitches lately, Braves teammate Freddie Freeman pointed not just to the two-run homer Heyward hit on a slider from Yankees left-hander Boone Logan in the eighth inning Tuesday, but a pitch he fouled off on an earlier at-bat.
“He’s fouling off pitches — I think he fouled off a ball on the [at-bat] where he struck out that seemed to be this far [about two feet] outside,” Freeman said, shaking his head. “He’s reaching everything. When he gets it in the strike zone, like he did with Logan, he’s going to do damage with it no matter what the pitch is, no matter what side it’s from.”
Heyward and other Braves did a whole lot of damage Wednesday. They hit five home runs, two by Heyward, in a 10-5 win against the New York Yankees that gave the Braves a 2-1 series win at Yankee Stadium against a team that had a 10-game winning streak before Tuesday.
“This was huge,” Heyward said of the back-to-back wins, which helped the Braves get the bad taste left behind from a 3-6 homestand that included being swept by these Yankees last week.
Martin Prado, Freddie Freeman and David Ross added home runs for the Braves, whose five homers were their season high and the most allowed by the Yankees. The Braves had hit only three homers in their previous nine games.
Braves starter Tommy Hanson (8-4) allowed four solo home runs in five-plus innings, including back-to-back homers by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano to start the sixth inning and cut the Braves’ lead to 5-4. He left without recording an out in the sixth, then watched his teammates keep the throttle open with three more runs in the eighth and another in the ninth.
On a sweltering day when the hot wind was blowing out to right field, the two teams combined for nine home runs, a record for the current Yankee Stadium and matching a Yankees franchise record for any home game.
“Is that normal here for a day game?” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That [nine homers] is amazing. One of them, it might just have been the [close] fence in right field. But there were some balls hit pretty good today. And we survived.”
The Yankees closed to within 6-5 with a run in the seventh off Chad Durbin, snapping the reliever’s streak of 19 consecutive scoreless relief appearances. The Yankees have made a habit of come-from-behind wins and a crowd of 45,094 seemed to expect another after seeing the Yankees erase most of what had been a 3-0 Braves lead in the first inning, 4-1 lead after three, and 6-1 after Ross’ homer in the fifth.
But after the Yankees got within a run, Prado led off the eighth with a double and advanced on a groundout. After Dan Uggla was walked intentionally, Freeman grounded out to drive in a run.
Heyward was up next, and the left-handed slugger homered on a 2-2 slider from Logan, after falling behind in the count 0-2 and fouling off three pitches.
“Jason Heyward had a humongous game,” Ross said.
It was his 10th home run of the season, only four shy of Heyward’s total from an injury-plagued second season in 2011 and eight off his rookie total.
“Stats-wise, it’s been a while” since he’s been this productive, Heyward said. “It’s just good to have a routine, a rhythm, to go up there and trust myself, trust my approach. And just go up there and relax and try to put together a good at-bat.”
Heyward has hit .351 with 10 extra-base hits (four homers) in 16 June games, after hitting .200 with nine extra-base hits in 30 games in May.
“Yesterday he beat the Yankees with the bat and also with defensive plays,” Gonzalez said, “and today he just flat-out played good baseball. He’s been playing good baseball all year. And we can’t ask for anything more.”
Ross said with Freeman back from a finger injury and Heyward hitting his stride, the Braves are far more formidable than they showed while losing 16 of 25 games before Tuesday.
“Oh, we’re really good when Jason Heyward is swinging the bat well,” Ross said. “You’re talking about him in the six or seven hole, when Chipper [Jones] is in there? We’re really deep and I would hate to be the opposing catcher calling a game against our lineup when Jason Heyward and those guys are swinging the bat well.”
The Yankees’ Phil Hughes (7-6) allowed two or fewer runs in six of past seven starts before Wednesday, when he allowed three in the first inning and six runs and six hits in 4-1/3 innings, including a career-high four homers.