Streaking Braves, Freeman avoid 100 losses

Streaking Braves, Freeman avoid 100 losses

MIAMI -- Freddie Freeman extended the longest active hitting streak in the Majors and became just the second player in Atlanta history to record an 80th extra-base hit in one season. But much of the satisfaction Freeman felt after Friday night's 3-2 win over the Marlins stemmed from the fight he and his Braves teammates have shown, which has enabled them to avoid what once seemed like an inevitable 100-loss season.

"Obviously, we got off to the start we did, and we were creeping up on a hundred losses pretty quickly," Freeman said. "This run we've been on recently stopped that progression. I don't think anybody who plays this game wants to be part of a 100-loss team."

With their seventh straight win on Friday, the Braves improved to 63-91. Now that the 100-loss season is no longer in play, they will spend the final eight games attempting to better the 67 wins produced last year.

"I don't know what [our record is], but we don't play like we're that kind of team," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We're somebody to be reckoned with right now. I guarantee teams don't want to play us because we're a pretty good baseball team right now."

As Freeman battled frustrating stretches of inconsistency through the first two months, the Braves began the season with nine straight losses, exited April with five wins and entered June with a 15-36 record that put them on pace for a 115-loss season.

The tide began to turn when Freeman caught fire in the middle of June, but the Braves still entered August on pace for a 105-loss season. But life has been a little different for the team as it has gone 26-23 since Matt Kemp arrived on Aug. 2. Kemp immediately provided Freeman both the protection and peace of mind he needed to continue producing legitimate National League Most Valuable Player credentials.

"I don't know if it was a goal, but you don't want to lose 100 [games]," Snitker said. "We didn't want to lose as many as we have, but I don't focus on that big picture as much as I do just what we're doing right now and where we've come from and what we're doing."

Freeman extended his on-base streak to 43 games courtesy of the first of two intentional walks he was issued on Friday. He extended his hitting streak to 27 games -- second longest produced in the Majors this season -- with a sixth-inning leadoff double that accounted for his 80th extra-base hit. The only other player to reach this mark in Atlanta history was Chipper Jones, who recorded 87 extra-base hits on the way to winning the NL MVP in 1999.

"It's pretty good," Freeman said. "I'm still in second. Second is still not ... You're congratulating somebody coming in second right now, so I've still got some games left. But just to be mentioned in the same breath as Chipper, in my opinion a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is pretty cool. I won't have time to think about it until the end of the year. We've got eight games left, so we'll see if I can make some magic and catch up to him."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.