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The Grand Slam: Freddie Freeman rescues Braves with walkoff single

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The Chicago Cubs picked their poison on Friday night. With the winning run on second and first base open, manager Rick Renteria elected to pass on Justin Upton to bring up Freddie Freeman. With one swing, Atlanta's $135 million man made them pay by lashing a single up the middle to score Jason Heyward and give Atlanta a 3-2, 10-inning victory

For Freeman, it was his third hit of the game and his eighth walkoff RBI dating back to 2011, which is tops in MLB. Upton is only two RBIs behind, so the Cubs obviously had their hands full regardless of who they faced. Still, had Renteria been able to read Freeman's mind at that point, he may have changed his mind on the spot. 

''It puts a smile on my face,'' Freeman said. ''I don't know if you saw on TV, but after the second, third and fourth pitches Justin and I were kind of just laughing at each other. It kind of fires you up, if you're not fired up already.

''When they walk someone intentionally to get to you, it definitely lights a fire under your butt.''

The fire quickly turned to a celebration when Heyward touched home. Leading that charge was closer Craig Kimbrel, who allowed Chicago to tie the game with a single run in the ninth. It's Kimbrel's second blown save in 11 chances this season after blowing only three saves in 53 opportunities last season. Julio Teheran was in line for the victory after allowing only one hit — a Mike Olt solo homer — in eight innings of work.

MORE WALKOFF FUN IN CINCY: 

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(Getty Images)

The immovable object known as Johnny Cueto met the irresistable force recognized as the Colorado Rockies offense on Friday night in Cincinnati. However, it was Joey Votto who had the final say in matters, delivering a walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Cincinnati a dramatic 4-3 victory.

Swinging on 3-0, Votto went to straight away center field with the 437-foot blast off reliever Matt Belisle. It was the fourth walkoff homer of Votto's career and his fifth homer of the season, but it was only Cincinnati's second longest home run of the game. Todd Frazier earlier smacked a 485-foot shot to center, registering as the longest in baseball this season.

As for Cueto, he became the first Reds pitcher to pitch through eight innings in five straight starts since Tom Browning did it in 1989. He held Colorado to two earned runs on five hits while striking out eight. Unfortunately, though, that wasn't good enough for the win. Colorado rallied for the tying run against Jonathan Broxton in the ninth when Nolan Arenado walked and Justin Morneau doubled him home.

In drawing that critical walk, Arenado saw his 28-game hitting streak come to an end. He finished 0 for 3.

TANAKA STAYS UNDEFEATED: Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka moved to 5-0 with six and one-third innings of two-run baseball as the Yankees topped the Brewers 5-3 at Miller Park. Tanaka added seven strikeouts, giving him 58 overall through his first seven starts. According to Elias, that's the 5th-most for a rookie since 1900. 

Starting for the first time in a National League park, Tanaka also struckout in all three of his plate appearances, which is to be expected. Fellow rookie Yangervis Solarte actually did the heavy lifting offensively, contributing a three-run homer off former all-star Yovani Gallardo. Solarte, who has taken over the Yankees third base position with Alex Rodriguez suspended for the season, currently leads the Yankees with 18 RBIs. He was considered a longshot to make the opening day after signing a minor league deal in January, but is now a fixture in Joe Girardi's lineup.

''He's obviously had a great first five or six weeks,'' Girardi said. ''He's played well and he deserves to be out there.''

It's not often the Yankees are forced to rely on rookies, but it's certainly worked out for them this season. At 19-15, they're a half game behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East.

JOSE FERNANDEZ COMES DOWN TO EARTH: A trip to San Diego to face the Padres struggling offense seemed like a recipe for dominance from Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez. It didn't play out that way, however, as the Friars touched him up for six runs — five earned — over five-plus innings en route to a 10-1 victory.

The big blows both came off the bat of Jedd Gyorko. In the second inning, he cracked a two-run homer. He then followed it with a grand slam, which officially ended Fernandez's nght with no outs in the sixth. It's not often we see 21-year-old Fernandez's human tendencies, but in this case it's a matter of tipping your cap to Gyorko.

Not as surprsing, his counterpart, Tyson Ross, continued his impressive start with seven quality innings. He allowed only one run on four hits while striking out eight. He's 4-3 on the season with a 3.02 ERA. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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