Freeman, Joyce hit HRs, Braves beat Blue Jays 9-4
TORONTO (AP) — Limited to a single run in each of their previous two games, the Atlanta Braves found the offense they’ve been looking for.
Ronald Acuña Jr. added a two-run double as the NL East-leading Braves snapped a two-game losing streak and won for the ninth time in 11 games.
“It was good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We needed that. We needed to come out and score some runs.”
Pitching had carried Atlanta over its previous 11 games, helping the Braves go 8-3 despite a team batting average of .198 and an average of fewer than four runs per game.
“It was nice, as an offense, to finally get back on that horse,” Freeman said. “(The pitchers) have been carrying us the last week and a half so it was nice to finally come through for them.”
Freeman leads the majors with 107 RBI, one more than Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell. Atlanta’s first baseman went 2 for 4, his first multi-hit game since a three-hit performance against Miami on Aug. 20.
“I’ve been grinding for a couple of weeks,” Freeman said. “Just when I thought I was going to get hot with the three hits against the Marlins, it didn’t happen. Hopefully this is a jumpstart and I can finish strong throughout September.”
Braves slugger Josh Donaldson went hitless against his former team for the second straight game. He walked twice and scored in Atlanta’s three-run seventh.
Atlanta reliever Luke Jackson (8-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings to win his fifth straight decision. The right-hander has not lost since June 15 against Philadelphia.
After scoring four runs in their previous three games combined, the Braves jumped out to a lead with a five-run second inning, sending nine batters to the plate against Blue Jays right-hander Jacob Waguespack.
Joyce led off with his fifth home run, Rafael Ortega hit an RBI double, Acuña doubled home two and Freeman capped the rally with a two-out RBI double.
Toronto’s Brandon Drury hit an RBI groundout off Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz in the fourth and a second run scored on a passed ball. Randal Grichuk hit an RBI double in the fifth and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made it a one-run game with a two-out RBI single off Jackson in the sixth.
Atlanta countered with three in the seventh. Toronto’s Jason Adam walked Ozzie Albies, hit Freeman and walked Donaldson to load the bases before giving way to Neil Ramirez. Joyce greeted Ramirez with an RBI single and Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a two-run single to left.
Freeman hit a leadoff drive to center off left-hander Buddy Boshers in the ninth.
Waguespack (4-2) lost for the first time since July 26 against Tampa Bay, ending a five-start unbeaten streak. The rookie allowed five runs, three earned, and six hits in three innings, his shortest start of the season.
“He just wasn’t sharp,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It was easy to see early on.”
Foltynewicz allowed three runs, two earned, and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Braves: C Francisco Cervelli left in the second because of pain in his left quadriceps. Cervelli began limping while rounding second base on Ortega’s double. Tyler Flowers came on to replace Cervelli. Snitker said afterward that Cervelli had been diagnosed with a strain. “He tested strong with the doctors,” Snitker said. “It was good that we erred on the side of caution with that one.”
Blue Jays: RHP Nick Kingham cleared waivers and became a free agent.
Joyce’s homer was the first by a Braves DH since Jeff Francoeur connected at Minnesota on July 27, 2016.
OPEN AND SHUT
The roof at Rogers Centre slid shut after a light drizzle began falling in the sixth. It was the first outdoor/indoor game in Toronto since Aug. 30, 2017, against Boston.
Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday. The Braves return home Friday to begin a three-game interleague series against the Chicago White Sox. Neither team has named a starter for Friday.
Blue Jays: Toronto gets the day off Thursday. RHP Trent Thornton (4-8, 5.34) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Houston. LHP Wade Miley (13-4, 3.13) starts for the Astros.