Freeman erupts as Braves hold off Twins

Freeman erupts as Braves hold off Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins wanted to commemorate the 25-year anniversary of their dramatic victory over Atlanta in the 1991 World Series, but Freddie Freeman and the Braves decided to crash the party with a 9-7 victory.

Freeman tied career highs with four hits and five RBIs as the Braves chased Twins starter Tyler Duffey in the second inning. Atlanta took an early 7-0 lead before holding off a furious Minnesota comeback for a 9-7 victory at Target Field on Wednesday night, winning both games in a short Interleague series.

"That's why I like scoring all of those runs later in the game, because it doesn't give them as much time to catch up," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's great to jump out, and [Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz] did a great job early of having the shutdown innings and then was getting two strikes and was having a hard time putting guys away. But we got the win."

Duffey (5-8) allowed seven of the first eight Braves hitters to reach base in a four-run first inning, punctuated by a two-run homer from Jeff Francoeur, and was pulled after yielding another run in 1 1/3 innings. Freeman added a two-run homer in the fourth, and the Braves tacked on insurance runs in the sixth and the eighth.

"We put up enough runs to win the game, which is really frustrating for me because my job is just to try to get to the fifth, at worst," Duffey said. "I didn't do it. We put up plenty of runs, and I ended up hurting us a lot more than me just pitching bad."

The nine runs were the most scored by Atlanta since an 11-8 victory over the White Sox on July 8.

As it turned out, the Braves needed the offense's outburst after a forgettable outing for Foltynewicz, who allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) in 5 1/3 innings. A two-run homer by Kurt Suzuki capped a three-run fourth, and the Twins added a two-run single by Miguel Sano in the fifth and two more in the sixth to keep the game close.

Suzuki's two-run home run

"We pecked away at them and got back into the game," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "They added on a couple, which proved to be a difference at the end of the game. We had chances right down to the end, but there's no question coming back from seven down is a tough task."

The Twins threatened to tie the game in the eighth, but reliever Chris Withrow struck out Sano with the tying run on second to preserve Atlanta's lead. Jim Johnson closed it out with a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Freeman rolling: When Freeman chased Duffey with his second RBI single of the night, the Braves had recorded eight hits through 11 at-bats. Though Michael Tonkin momentarily silenced Atlanta's offense, he also was damaged by Freeman, whose two-run home run in the fourth was projected by Statcast™ at 443 feet, a season best for the Braves first baseman. He notched five RBIs for the fifth time (first since Sept. 23 at Citi Field) with his decisive double in the sixth inning.

"It was a nice way to end a road trip," Freeman said of a 3-6 trip that also included stops in Denver and Cincinnati. "As an offense, we've been struggling all year, so it's nice to put up some runs like we did. Hopefully, we can carry that into the homestand and finish the season strong." More >

Freeman's four-hit game

Duffey struggles again: It's been two rough starts for Duffey. After allowing six runs on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Red Sox on Thursday, he turned in the shortest outing of his career, recording only four outs. Duffey allowed seven of the first eight hitters to reach base as part of a four-run first and was pulled after yielding two more hits and another run.

"I'm sure he was anxious to pitch after his last outing, maybe to the point where it was detrimental," Molitor said. "He seemed like he was, from my perspective, overthrowing. He tried to come out and the velocity was up a little early, but that's not always a good sign." More >

Francoeur's two-run home run

Twins miss multiple opportunities: After chipping away at the Braves' lead for most of the game, the Twins had a shot to tie it in the eighth when a fielding error and a walk put runners on first and second with nobody out. Minnesota, down 9-7, elected to have Eduardo Nunez bunt, but Freeman was able to get the forceout at third base. A stellar diving play by Gordon Beckham denied the Twins a run on a sharp grounder by Joe Mauer. Sano then struck out for the third time, stranding the tying run at second base, and showed his displeasure by snapping his bat over his leg.

"The eighth inning turned out to be an inning where I had some options on different things to do, and I elected to play for the tie there," Molitor said. "We had a tough bunt to read, and we couldn't get to third. It fizzled from there."

Sano breaks bat on his knee

Bullpen saves Folty: Foltynewicz scattered three hits over three scoreless innings and then surrendered six hits (including four extra-base hits) within a span of nine at-bats. The right-hander matched a career-high 12 hits allowed when he surrendered three singles during a two-run sixth that concluded with Mauricio Cabrera striking out Sano with a runner at third base. The Braves' bullpen retired 11 of 14 batters and surrendered just one hit while notching six strikeouts over 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

"I didn't go six or seven innings tonight, so they had to pick up a good piece for me," Foltynewicz said. "I tip my hat to them guys. They did a heck of a job and saved me tonight."

Johnson shuts the door

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The Twins have lost seven straight games to the Braves, their longest active losing streak against any team.

• Along with hitting two-run homers, Freeman and Francoeur both recorded a stolen base. The only other time they had stolen a base on the same day was July 30, 2011, when Francoeur was with the Royals and Freeman was in his first full season with Atlanta.

WHAT'S NEXT
Braves: Matt Wisler will take the mound Thursday when Atlanta welcomes Philadelphia to Turner Field to begin a four-game series at 7:10 p.m. ET. Wisler has struggled in each of his past three starts, but he showed encouraging signs during the first five innings of Saturday's game at Coors Field.

Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (3-6, 4.67 ERA) will take the mound Thursday at 6:10 p.m. CT against the Orioles in a rescheduled game for a May 9 rainout. He is coming off perhaps the best start of his career in Boston on Friday, when he scattered two hits and one run in eight dominant innings, striking out six and walking one.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Twins on Wednesday.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.