Freeman celebrates All-Star berth with four RBIs

Guy Curtright, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman didn't waste any time paying back the fans who voted him into his first All-Star Game.
The Atlanta first baseman had three hits and drove in four runs to lead the Braves to a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds before a crowd of 40,186 at Turner Field on Thursday night.
Freeman's big game came shortly after it was announced that he received a record 19.7 million votes to beat out Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig for the final spot on the National League team for Tuesday's All-Star Game in New York.
"He had a terrific night," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He didn't let the fans who voted for him down."
Or his Atlanta teammates, who campaigned hard on his behalf.
"I'm pretty sure it's not going to be his last (All-Star Game)," said Tim Hudson, who worked seven innings for the victory. "It's nice to see him get what he deserved. There is no question he deserved to be there. It shouldn't have had to go to a vote."
Freeman got a boisterous standing ovation when he came to bat the first time, and after a moment to let everything sink in, delivered a two-run double.
"It was a load off my shoulders," Freeman said of the hit. "They voted for you, and you want to get out there and deliver for them."
Two more hits and two more RBIs followed against Reds starter Mat Latos as the crowd continued to chant Freeman's name.
Freeman is batting .421 (32-for-76) with runners in scoring position this season and is 7-for-12 with three doubles and six RBIs against Latos.
Overall, Freeman is hitting .313 with nine homers and 60 RBIs.
"When a hitter can hit and he's hot, scouting doesn't do anything," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I've been a hot hitter myself. They can have all the scouting reports they want to, if you've got the mind-set they're not going to get you out."
Meanwhile, Hudson -- winless over 10 starts before a victory at Philadelphia on Saturday -- continued his success against the Reds and in home games.
Hudson (6-7) worked seven innings and allowed four runs (three earned) and eight hits. He struck out five and walked two, throwing 107 pitches. The veteran right-hander improved to 5-1 in his career against the Reds and 4-0 overall at Turner Field this year.
"Huddy battled," said Gonzalez, who had gone through a lot of pitchers in a three-game series at Miami. "We needed that for our bullpen."
Brandon Phillips drove in an unearned run with a double in the eighth inning for the Reds, but Jordan Walden stranded two runners in the inning. Craig Kimbrel, the Braves' other All-Star, worked around a leadoff single by Devin Mesoraco the ninth for his 25th save and 15th in a row.
Justin Upton went 3-for-4 with a double, scored twice and drove in a run for the Braves, who had 11 hits.
"He's had some great at-bats," Gonzalez said. "We need him like he was in April."
Shin-Soo Choo, 15-for-36 (.417) during a nine-game hitting streak, was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, scoring three times for the Reds.
Latos (8-3) lasted just four innings in his shortest outing of the season. The right-hander allowed six runs on nine hits while striking out seven and walking two.
"It's tough to not give up runs and give up hard-hit balls when you're throwing the ball right down the middle," Latos said. "I just couldn't make the adjustment."
The Reds scored twice in the first inning off Hudson on RBI hits by Phillips and Jay Bruce, but the Braves tied it in the bottom of the inning as Freeman smacked the first pitch he saw to the wall in right-center field for a two-run double.
Freeman then made it 3-2 in the second inning with a two-out hit. The single scored pinch runner Reed Johnson, who entered after Jason Heyward strained his right hamstring going into third base. Heyward was able to walk off the field and will be evaluated Friday.
Choo, who had scored after a leadoff single in the first inning, doubled and came in on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly in the third to tie it again. But then the Braves scored three times the fourth.
Reed Johnson drove in the first run with a triple, Upton followed with a run-scoring double, and Freeman recorded his fourth RBI with his third hit, a single.
"Freddie's a good hitter," Mesoraco said. "He definitely deserved to go to the All-Star Game."
"Freeman is swinging the bat really well," Latos said.
The Reds cut the Braves' lead to 6-4 in the fifth inning on a throwing error by third baseman Chris Johnson. The Braves committed three errors, but the miscues didn't end up spoiling things for Freeman or this team.
"It was an awesome night," Freeman said.
NOTES: The Reds placed C Ryan Hanigan on the disabled list with a sprained left wrist and purchased the contract of veteran C Corky Miller from Triple-A Louisville. ... Braves C/LF Evan Gattis, out since June 17 with an oblique strain, will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday at Durham. He leads NL rookies with 14 homers and 37 RBIs. ... Two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy was honored by the Braves before Thursday's game, and fans were given Murphy bobbleheads. ... The four-game series continues Friday, with RHP Kris Medlen (6-8, 3.45 ERA) pitching for the Braves against Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 3.55). ... The Braves took two of three in Cincinnati in early May.