LOS ANGELES (AP) — Freddie Freeman is crafting a Hollywood beginning to his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And it’s already a love story.
Freeman slugged his first home run in a Dodgers uniform — against his former team, no less — and Trea Turner’s bases-loaded double highlighted a five-run fourth inning as Los Angeles beat the Atlanta Braves 7-4 on Monday night for its seventh consecutive victory.
“Glad I got the first one out of the way,” Freeman said.
When he stepped into the batter’s box for the first time, Freeman and Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud looked at each other.
“We both said, ‘This is weird,’” Freeman said.
He didn’t wait to tee off against his old club, sending a solo shot into the left-field pavilion off Huascar Ynoa (0-2) in the first. That triggered chants of “Freddie! Freddie!” from the sellout crowd of 52,052 as the first baseman pointed to his family watching in a suite.
“For 50,000 people to make me feel good about myself and know they care about me, it means a lot,” Freeman said.
The crowd’s rhythmic shouting of Freeman’s name began at last week’s home opener, when fans serenaded him simply for smacking a double. Now, he’s hearing it every trip to the plate.
“Maybe they kind of sense it was a hard breakup and giving him the support he needs,” winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw said.
Before the game, an emotional Freeman spent time in the Atlanta 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 wanted to see them and hug them,” he said. “I like hugs.”
So does Freeman’s young son, Charlie, who spotted his dad’s former teammate, Dansby Swanson, and ran over to get a pregame hug.
Freeman flashed stellar defense in the seventh, diving to his right to make a backhand stab of Swanson’s liner for the first out. He was 1 for 3 with two runs and two walks.
“It was a special day,” Freeman said, “one I’ll always remember.”
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.
Bellinger homered leading off the eighth for a 7-4 lead.
Atlanta’s Guillermo Heredia and Ozzie Albies homered off Kershaw (2-0). Fourteen of the Braves’ 15 homers this season have been solo shots.
“In the sixth my stuff wasn’t as crisp. Don’t know if I ran out of gas,” Kershaw said. “Shows I’ve got a little more work to do to build my stamina up.”
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 in earning his 100th victory at Dodger Stadium.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for 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.
Dodgers: RHP Blake Treinen won’t be available against the Braves because of a sore arm. He played catch and isn’t expected to go on the IL.
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.
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