TORONTO -- Freddie Freeman hit his 13th home run of the season and Matt Kemp chipped in with four hits as the Braves' offense scored early and often in a 10-6 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night at Rogers Centre.
The 10 runs were tied for the second-highest output by Atlanta this season, and the heart of the order was the main reason why. In addition to Freeman and Kemp, right fielder Nick Markakis also chipped in with a pair of hits, and all but two members of the starting lineup reached base at least once. The Braves have now won three of their last four games after dropping five consecutive games earlier this month.
"These are the kind of games you can carry over into some pretty good win streaks," Kemp said. "We've been hitting the ball pretty good. We've been playing good and pitching good. We've been firing on all cylinders. There's a long season to go, but if we continue to pitch like that and hit, of course we could be very successful."
Right-hander Bartolo Colon picked up the victory after allowing three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and a pair of walks. He showed improvement after entering this game having surrendered at least four runs in each of his last four starts; he lowered his ERA to 6.80 and struck out one while throwing 48 of his 81 pitches for strikes.
"I'm happy with the direction we're going, and I'm happy with the direction we're pitching," Colon said through an interpreter. "I know we hit a little skid there, and a lot of that was my fault. I'm glad with the direction we're going, and I just have to work my butt off to get us where we need to be."
The loss went to Blue Jays right-hander Mike Bolsinger, who could not make it out of the fifth inning. He allowed six runs on eight hits, which could put his rotation spot in jeopardy, though the Blue Jays are running out of options with J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano currently on the disabled list. Bolsinger was coming off a strong outing against the Indians but allowed at least one run in all but one of his innings against Atlanta.
Jose Bautista and Devon Travis each had three-hit nights, while Justin Smoak added his eighth home run of the season with a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth to go along with a double earlier in the game.
"When your team puts up six runs, in my opinion, that should be a win," Bolsinger said after the game. "I really didn't give my team a chance to win tonight. It was bad. It was a bad night, and I want to forget about it and move on to the next one."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The two-out rally: The Braves jumped out to an early lead, but they really took control in the top of the fifth and it was all because of a two-out rally. Kemp got things started with a double to left and Markakis quickly followed with his second RBI single of the night. Tyler Flowers walked and then Adonis Garcia chased Bolsinger from the game with an RBI single that bounced off the glove of a diving Ryan Goins at shortstop. By the time Toronto got out of the inning, the Braves had a 6-2 lead.
"That's kind of what baseball is: good pitching, good defense and timely hitting," Dansby Swanson said after recording his second two-hit game of the year and extending his hitting streak to seven games. "Whenever you're able to have big two-out hits, it definitely keeps the wheels rolling and helps create runs."
Limiting the damage: Following Atlanta's two-run fifth, Toronto did have an opportunity of its own to quickly get back into the game. Bautista hit a one-out RBI double that cut the lead to 6-3, and the Blue Jays appeared to have Colon on the ropes. Kendrys Morales then lined out to left and Travis hit a rocket right at third baseman Garcia. According to Statcast™, that hard groundout was the hardest-hit ball of the inning, with an exit velocity of 105.3 mph. Freeman would put the game away in the sixth with a three-run shot to center.
"I thought we were going to get to Colon a little bit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We took some good swings off him. We hung around, and then they blew it open."
"It was pretty cool facing Colon. Someone I grew up watching ... He's good, man. He doesn't blow the radar gun up like he used to, but he pitches. He's got a lot of movement on his fastball. It's 85, 90 when he feels like it. He was tough tonight. We got some good pitches to hit, and I think he does a good job of that, though, throwing pitches that you go back to the dugout saying, 'Man, I can't miss that pitch.'" -- Travis, on facing Colon
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Freeman has now homered against each of the 10 teams the Braves have faced this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mark McGwire set a MLB record when he homered against 24 different teams while playing for both the A's and Cardinals in 1997. Baltimore's Chris Davis homered against 20 different teams in 2013.
This marked the first time during the Statcast™ Era that Colon completed a start without inducing a swinging strike. He did draw 16 called strikes, including 11 with his two-seam fastball.
The Blue Jays set a franchise record with five hit batsmen. Bolsinger hit three batters, and Leonel Campos and Aaron Loup each hit one. The only consolation for the Braves is that at least none of their hitters were struck by a pitch more than once.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Jaime Garcia will take the mound when Atlanta and Toronto meet again at Rogers Centre on Tuesday at 4:07 p.m. ET. This will be the finale of a three-city, seven-game trip for the Braves, who will welcome the Blue Jays to Atlanta on Wednesday.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada (2-2, 3.12 ERA) will get the call for the Blue Jays as the series continues on Wednesday afternoon. Estrada has surrendered two runs or fewer in all but two of his starts this season, and he's coming off a six-inning performance vs. the Mariners in which he allowed a pair of runs on six hits.