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Freddie Freeman comes off bench to lead Atlanta Braves over New York Mets

By
Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. UPI/David Tulis
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. UPI/David Tulis | License Photo

NEW YORK -- The last person to have an off-day as productive as the one Freddie Freeman enjoyed Wednesday was Ferris Bueller.

Freeman, the Atlanta Braves' star first baseman, didn't start Wednesday against the New York Mets but delivered a go-ahead, pinch-hit two-run double in the seventh inning before launching a tie-breaking three-run homer in the ninth that lifted the Braves to a 6-3 win at Citi Field.

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Prior to the game, manager Fredi Gonzalez said he hoped to stay away from Freeman -- who was sidelined with a chronically sore right wrist -- for anything other than defensive purposes. But skipping batting practice and receiving hours of pregame treatment with the Braves' training staff left Freeman feeling good enough to contribute off the bench.

"Who is the MVP of the game?" Gonzalez said with a grin. "Jeff Porter and Jim Lovell, our trainers."

It didn't seem as if the Braves would need Freeman to jumpstart a victory when the Mets scored single runs in the first and second innings and 42-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon retired the first 14 batters on just 39 pitches.

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But second baseman Jace Peterson's infield single broke up the perfect game bid to begin a stretch in which six of the final 12 batters to face Colon reached base. Colon wriggled out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the sixth before a trio of singles chased him with one out in the seventh.

Left fielder Michael Bourn greeted right-hander Addison Reed with an RBI single before Freeman stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter for the Braves' starter, right-hander Williams Perez.

"I told 'Skip' before the game that if a big situation comes up, I'll go out there and hit," Freeman said.

Freeman did just that by hitting a long two-run double to right that landed just beyond the grasp of Curtis Granderson.

"We were just kind of trying to take it easy on him, give him two days," said Gonzalez, referring to the Braves' off-day on Thursday. "But obviously our training staff did a terrific job. We gave him enough time to get warmed up when we had to use him."

The Mets tied the game in the seventh on an RBI single by third baseman David Wright and stirred again in the eighth, when first baseman Lucas Duda drew a one-out walk.

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But right-hander Edwin Jackson (4-3) recorded the final out of the eighth and the Braves broke the game open in a 10-pitch span in the ninth against right-hander Jeurys Familia (2-2). With one out, center fielder Cameron Maybin singled and Bourn walked before Freeman homered deep into the left field seats.

The five RBIs tied a career high for Freeman, set four times previously, and provided a measure of satisfaction at the end of a trying season. Freeman had his streak of 234 consecutive games played ended when he suffered a bone bruise in his right wrist on June 17. That injury cost him 30 games, and he missed another 12 with a strained right oblique in August.

"It's been a frustrating season in all areas for this team," said Freeman, who had the wrist heavily wrapped as he spoke at his locker. "For me personally, it's been injury-plagued. Looks like it's going to end injury-plagued. To be able to come off the bench and help his team win is definitely a good feeling."

Right-hander Arodys Vizcaino earned his seventh save with a one-hit ninth for the Braves (62-91), who won the final two games of the three-game series and have won five of their past six.

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The Mets, meanwhile, continued skidding toward the National League East title. New York (85-67) finished the homestand 3-6 but got help for a second straight day from the Washington Nationals, whose 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles reduced the Mets' magic number to five.

"It's always good when that magic number shrinks," Wright said. "Ultimately we'd like to play better and have that magic number shrink because we're winning and not have to shrink because they're losing."

Tejada was 3-for-3 while catcher Travis d'Arnaud had two hits.

Colon gave up two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out one over 6 1/3 innings.

"I didn't see many good swings the entire night," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He was outstanding. All of a sudden, they got some hits."

NOTES: A moment of silence was held prior to the game in honor of Yogi Berra, who died Tuesday at 90 years old. While Berra is best-known for winning 10 World Series as a player with the Yankees, he finished his playing career with the Mets in 1965 and managed them to the 1973 World Series. ... Mets RHP Bartolo Colon needs one more win to become the third pitcher to record three consecutive 15-win seasons in his 40s. ... Mets INF Juan Uribe (chest contusion) singled as a pinch-hitter in his first game action since Sunday. ... Braves 1B Freddie Freeman has 16 homers and 69 RBI against the Mets, by far his most against any opponent. ... The Braves have used 60 players this year, four shy of the major league record set by the 2014 Texas Rangers.

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