Freeman sparks Braves' rout of Mets

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- When Freddie Freeman hits, good things normally happen for the Atlanta Braves.
The first baseman matched his career-best with five RBIs in a 13-5 win over the New York Mets on Monday. Freeman had a two-run double in the first inning and a long three-run homer, his 18th, in the second to pace the Braves to their seventh win in their last eight games. Freeman now has a team-high 93 RBIs, one short of his career best.
"He gave us a couple of great at-bats on a tough day to play," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He put us on the board and kept us on the board."
The top three hitters in the Atlanta batting order went 8-for-15 with four runs and six RBIs. Leadoff hitter Jordan Schafer went 4-for-5 with three stolen bases, two runs scored and one RBI before leaving the game with a lower back strain. Justin Upton went 2-for-4 with two walks, a double and scored three runs.
"My approach is to be aggressive," Freeman said. "I was aggressive and I was able to capitalize on some mistakes."
Atlanta pounded out 17 hits off seven New York pitchers and cut its magic number to winning the National League East to 12. It matched the most runs the team has scored in a game this year.
"It was a good day for us all the way around today," Schafer said.
Atlanta starter Paul Maholm (10-10) wasn't sharp, but got through five innings and snapped a four-game losing streak. He gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, striking out four. Maholm has allowed 25 runs (23 earned) over his last 29 2/3 innings, a 6.99 ERA, but won his first decision since July 5 at the Philadelphia Phillies.
"I don't know if it was mechanical or just one of those things," Gonzalez said. "But he battled and never gave in."
Maholm said, "I was falling behind some guys, not making some pitches. Sometimes you go out there and you're not in rhythm and you have to battle. It's nice that the offense put up some runs and took care of it."
New York starter Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3) was roughed up in his third start for the Mets. He gave up six runs on seven hits with two walks in three innings. Matsuzaka is 0-7 in his last eight starts, dating to Sept. 2, 2012.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Matsuzaka will remain in the starting rotation.
"There's no reason you don't run him out there," Collins said. "You've got to keep battling. We'll get him ready for his next start."
Matsuzaka said, "I was disappointed in myself today."
Collins said Matsuzaka has not been able to find his location. He's allowed 15 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings in three starts with New York.
"We need for him to eat some innings. That's why we got him," Collins said. "I know he'll get himself ready. Nobody works harder or gets prepared better. He's known for locating his pitches and that's what he's not doing."
The Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Schafer reached on a bunt single, stole second and reached third on Upton's single. They both scored when Freeman doubled over the head of right fielder Andrew Brown.
The Mets got one run back in the second when Matsuzaka laced a two-out single to center to score Juan Lagares, who led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Anthony Recker's walk.
Atlanta added four runs in the second inning thanks to an RBI single by Schafer and Freeman's homer.
The Mets cut the lead to 6-3 with a pair of runs in the fourth on a pinch-hit double by Zach Lutz and a sacrifice fly by Daniel Murphy.
The Braves got those two runs back in the fifth on a two-out two-RBI double by Andrelton Simmons. They tacked on two more runs in the sixth and three more in the eighth.
NOTES: The Mets signed RHP Aaron Harang to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. He will be recalled when the minor league season ends. ... 1B Ike Davis, who left Saturday's game with a strained right oblique, returned to New York to be examined at the Hospital for Special Surgery early next week. ... The Braves purchased the contract of RHP Kameron Loe from Triple-A Gwinnett. He will start the series finale against the Mets on Wednesday. ... The Braves are a league-leading 50-19 at home.

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