Freeman, Heyward homers power Braves past Brewers
Freddie Freeman finally solved Miller Park. The best way to hit there is to hit it out.
Freeman, hitting .111 in 10 previous games at the Brewers’ ballpark, hit a pair of solo home runs, and Jason Heyward added a two-run shot, powering the Atlanta Braves to a 5-2 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
"I don’t know what it is. I’ve always struggled here," said Freeman, who had four singles in 36 previous at-bats at Miller Park. "It’s nice. I was obviously due."
Freeman opened the sixth with his first homer off Kyle Lohse (0-1) to put Atlanta up 3-1 and added a two-out home run in the eighth off Zach Duke to extend the lead to 4-1.
"I’ve always seemed to hit Lohse pretty good and he left a couple out for me," Freeman said.
Heyward’s first homer of the season, after a one-out walk to No. 8 hitter Andrelton Simmons, put the Braves on top 2-1 in the fifth and snapped a string of 22 scoreless innings against the Brewers. Yovani Gallardo helped shut out the Braves on opening day.
"For me, the key was walking Simmons in that inning because you have the inning set up to where you don’t have to get to the top of the lineup if I do my job there," said Lohse, who allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking two.
Alex Wood (1-0) settled down for Atlanta after allowing a home run to Carlos Gomez on his first pitch. The left-hander allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
"First pitch of the game, first hitter, you don’t have much choice than to put it behind you from the get-go," said Wood. "It took me a few innings to settle in but after that, I got into a groove, got my fastball command back and just took off from there."
The Brewers were 8-2 in their last 10 games against Atlanta, with six shutouts, including the final meeting last season on a two-hitter by Lohse.
"The last three or four years, we haven’t really done well against the Brewers or here at Miller Park," Freeman said. "It’s nice to get the first one out of the way. As an offense, we knew we weren’t going to get shut out of the whole 162 . we let them sweat it out for the first 15 innings."
Gomez hustled the Brewers within 4-2 in the eighth after drawing a leadoff walk. With one out, he stole second as Ryan Braun struck out, and continued to third on a throwing error by catcher Evan Gattis. Aramis Ramirez singled in Gomez.
Atlanta answered with a run in the ninth on a double by Dan Uggla, a single by Gattis and sacrifice fly by Simmons.
The Braves missed a chance to tie it in the fourth when Freeman singled to open, but was cut down at the plate by Gomez on Uggla’s two-out double to left-center.
"That was huge," Lohse said. "They’ve been working hard on that all spring and did a great job picking me up right there. I wish I would have picked them up a little better after that."