Freddie Freeman slugged his first home run in a Dodgers uniform, Trea Turner’s bases-loaded double highlighted a five-run fourth inning, and Los Angeles beat the Atlanta Braves 7-4 on Monday night for its seventh consecutive victory.
“I haven’t hit one [a homer] all year in the first nine games, so I’m just glad I got the first one out of the way,” said Freeman of the homer. “There’s no storylines, no poetic justice. I love the Atlanta Braves and will always love the Atlanta Braves, but I’m just happy to help the Dodgers win tonight.”
Freeman didn’t wait to tee off against his old team, sending a shot to the left-field pavilion in the first off Huascar Ynoa (0-2). That triggered chants of “Freddie! Freddie!” from the sellout crowd of 52,052 as the first baseman pumped his right arm coming into home plate.
“They did it again tonight,” said Freeman of the fans chanting his name throughout this homestand. “For 50,000 people every single night to do that every time I step in the box to make me feel good about myself and to know that they care about me, that means a lot. It makes me want to get a hit for them every time. It means a lot that the fans have welcomed me with open arms.”
Before the game, an emotional Freeman spent time in the Braves clubhouse, reliving memories of winning last year’s World Series, the franchise’s first championship since 1995. He signed a $162 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers in March, ending a 12-year run with the Braves, the only team the Southern California native had played for.
“I just wanted to see them and hug them,” said Freeman of visiting the Braves’ clubhouse before the game. “When you go through the grind of 162-game seasons, playoffs, to lose in the first round multiple times, lose to the Dodgers in 2020, and then ultimately win the championship in 2021, that beyonds forever. We’re going to be teammates for a little while, but we’re going to be champions forever.”
Freeman flashed stellar defense in the seventh, diving to his right to make a backhand stab of Dansby Swanson’s shot for the first out. He was 1 for 3 with two runs and two walks.
The Dodgers tacked on five runs in the fourth when they batted around in a rematch of the past two NL Championship Series.
Cody Bellinger got things going with an RBI groundout and designated hitter Edwin Rios added an RBI single. Turner’s three-run double off Sean Newcomb landed in left between Orlando Arcia and the foul line, making it 6-0.
“I could get used to that,” said Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts of having big innings offensively to start the season. “I like the way we tacked on another one. Those are big numbers we seem to put up when we do score in an inning. It’s just a collection of good at-bats and good baserunning.”
Bellinger homered leading off the eighth for a 7-4 lead.
Atlanta’s Guillermo Heredia and Ozzie Albies homered off Clayton Kershaw (2-0). Fourteen of the Braves’ 15 homers this season have been solo shots.
“I thought I threw the ball okay, except for that 6th inning,” said Kershaw of his start. “Their top of the lineup, facing them for a third time, and my stuff wasn’t crisp. I don’t know if I ran out of gas or what, but they made me pay in that 6th inning.”
Coming off seven perfect innings at Minnesota last week, Kershaw allowed four runs and six hits in five-plus innings. The left-hander struck out seven and walked none.
Kershaw moved into second on the list of starting pitchers who’ve retired the most consecutive batters to start a season since 1960. He retired 23 in a row, trailing leader Yu Darvish, who retired 26 straight in 2013.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth to earn his third save.
Kenley Jansen returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time since he signed a one-year deal with the Braves in March. The Dodgers’ career saves leader received a standing ovation while being honored before the game.
Braves: OF Ronald Acuña Jr. is scheduled to start an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett at Jacksonville on Tuesday. It will be his first game since July 10, when he tore his right ACL during a game against Miami.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (0-2, 5.73 ERA) is 1-0 with a 2.25 career ERA against the Dodgers.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.38) makes his fourth career start against the Braves. He’s 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA and 17 strikeouts.