Freeman streaks end but surging Braves complete sweep of Phillies

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Freeman streaks end but surging Braves complete sweep of Phillies

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Braves starting pitcher Josh Collmenter works against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

Freddie Freeman’s streaks ended, but Dansby Swanson and Matt Kemp made sure the Braves kept rolling.

Swanson’s first Turner Field homer was game-tying leadoff shot in the sixth inning, then he scored from first base on Kemp’s double off the right-field wall in the eighth, giving the Braves their first lead en route to a 5-2 win – their 10th in 11 games – to complete another sweep of the Phillies.

“It was pretty cool,” Swanson said of his first homer at the ballpark where he used to come watch the Braves as a kid growing up in Marietta, “especially at that time of the game, that situation. To tie the game up and try to give us some momentum going forward.”

Freeman went 0-for-4 to snap his 30-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors since Dan Uggla’s Atlanta franchise-record 33-game streak in 2011. He also ended a 46-game on-base streak tied for longest in the majors this year.

“It was fun, ride it out as long as you can,” Freeman said. “But realistically, 30 games is pretty cool. I’ll obviously look back at it after the season, but right now just focus on tomorrow.”

Josh Collmenter pitched seven strong innings in his third eye-opening start since being picked up by the Braves, who’ve won 22 of 35 games and improved to 48-46 since their 18-46 start.

“It’s like, the umpire says play ball and our guys are expecting to win,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. “They just keep grinding away, putting up good at-bats, and plays like Jace (Peterson) made and like Dansby made the other day — they’re laying out and keeping runs from scoring, and giving us a chance to come back in those games.”

The Braves are 29-25 since trading for Kemp, who’s hit .289 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 38 RBIs for them and helped boost their offensive production to 5.3 runs per game in that stretch, third-most in the majors. He’s hit .347 with 15 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs in the past 26 games, and the Braves are 17-9 in that span.

With the score 1-1, Swanson led off the eighth with a walk and hustled to score on Kemp’s double against reliever Jeanmar Gomez. An intentional walk and hit batter later, Peterson singled to drive in another run before rookie Rio Ruiz hit a routine grounder that somehow bounced between two Phillies infielders for a two-run single and 5-1 lead.

“They just kept coming at it,” Snitker said. “Big hit by Matt there and then just kind of kept it rolling. Nice to have that big inning. Josh did another great job for us.”

Each of Collmenter’s three starts for the Braves has been better than the one before, increasing the likelihood that he’ll be back next season to pitch again for them, or at least to compete for a spot in what they say will be an improved rotation.

The promising Braves rookie and local kid hit a tying home run and then walked and scored the go-ahead run on Matt Kemp's 8th-inning double as Atlanta swept the Phillies. (Video by David O'Brien)

Collmenter limited the Phillies to one run and six hits (all singles) in seven innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.

The 30-year-old was acquired from the Cubs in a minor trade two weeks ago when the Braves needed an emergency starter to help get them through the season. He’s done more than that: The former Diamondbacks opening-day starter has a 2.37 ERA in three starts while allowing 15 hits and five walks with 16 strikeouts in 17 innings.

The Phillies manufactured their only run against him in the third inning with a pair of soft singles around a hit batsman.

Swanson tied things with a sixth-inning leadoff homer against right-handed reliever Colton Murray. It was the third homer for Swanson, whose other two were in consecutive games Sept. 6-7 at Washington.

“Just glad it got out,” he said of Thursday’s homer, which bounced off the padded top of the fence. “I mean, holy cow. When I hit it I thought, that’s got to be a home run. Then I saw (left fielder Cody) Asche back there, timing it up. I was like, pray to God it gets out.”

In his past 20 games Swanson has hit .354 with eight extra-base hits (three homers), 13 RBIs and an OPS over .950. It was his second homer to lead off an inning, and he’s batting .394 (13-for-33) in those situations.

With Adonis Garcia on the bench so that third-base prospec Ruiz could get a start, Swanson moved up from the bottom of the order to bat second for the first time in the majors. He could end up hitting second next season.

Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson allowed just one hit and no walks with four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings before leaving the game with a right knee sprain.

The Braves loaded the bases soon shortly after Hellickson left the game when Murray hit Kemp with a pitch with two out in the fourth inning, followed by a Markakis single and Anthony Recker walk. Peterson struck out to end that threat.

Peterson saved a run an inning later when he made a diving stop on Freddy Galvis’ two-out grounder up the middle, then alertly threw to third base to catch Aaron Altherr rounding the base, and the Braves got him in a rundown for the third out. And when Peterson got a chance to hit again with bases loaded in the eighth, he came through.

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