Freeman, Santana help Braves win 8th straight
ATLANTA (AP) Ervin Santana says it's too early to declare that he is fully recovered from a midseason slump. This outing was certainly a step in the right direction.
Freddie Freeman drove in two runs, Santana won his second straight start, and the Atlanta Braves stretched their winning streak to eight games with a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.
''Every time when you have a bad outing, you get frustrated and you keep going and you get frustrated,'' he said. ''But if you take a little breather, you can go up there and still do your best.''
The Braves (48-38) have won 10 of 11 to move 10 games over .500 for the first time since April 29. They lead the NL East by 1 1/2 games.
Santana (7-5) gave up six hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings.
Arizona began the night tied with Houston for most losses in the majors with 50. The Diamondbacks have lost seven of 11.
''We're trying everything we can to turn around things, but it's not happening,'' third baseman Martin Prado said. ''We're trying to have good at-bats and everything. I feel like we're pretty close. There's a bunch of guys having good at-bats.''
After earning three victories from June 20-28, Arizona's Josh Collmenter (7-5) allowed five runs, 11 hits, one walk, and struck out three in six-plus innings.
The Braves made it 2-0 in the first on Freeman's RBI single and Jason Heyward's RBI groundout.
Atlanta went up 4-1 in the third on Andrelton Simmons bases-loaded RBI single and Justin Upton's RBI walk, but Collmenter stranded the bases loaded when Heyward popped out.
Collmenter's night ended after Simmons led off the seventh with a double. Oliver Perez, the next Arizona pitcher, allowed another RBI single by Freeman to make it 5-1.
''He went out there and did the best he could and got through six innings. We were unable to score runs,'' Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of Collmenter.
Santana seemed in sync most of the night, but that hasn't been the case the last few weeks. After winning 2-0 against the Cubs on May 10, Santana went 1-5 with a 5.96 ERA in his next eight starts before earning a 10-3 victory last Saturday at Philadelphia.
''Everything my way is getting back again, so I just have to keep it up,'' Santana said. ''Keep my mind positive and keep working down in the zone.''
Santana retired 11 straight before Didi Gregorius singled to begin the eighth. He came out one out later when Ender Inciarte singled.
After Luis Avilan retired David Peralta on an RBI forceout, Jordan Walden gave up a double to Paul Goldschmidt before striking out Miguel Montero to end the threat.
In the ninth, Craig Kimbrel struck out Prado, retired Gerardo Parra on a groundout and got Nick Ahmed to fly out for his 27th save in 31 chances.
Arizona cut the lead to 2-1 in the second when Prado led off with a single, moved to second and third on groundouts, and scored on Santana's wild pitch.
Freeman, who went 2 for 4, is hitting .365 over his last 19 games. He drove in his first run when B.J. Upton led off the first with a single, stole second, took third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on Freeman's single.
Upton has a 10-game hitting streak, tied for the longest of his career.
''It really is contagious,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''You see things happening and guys playing situational baseball. I always tell the guys that they're not all game-winning RBIs. The guys that drive in 100 every year - they get them when the defense is giving it to you.''
NOTES: The Braves announced a sellout with a season-high crowd of 48,815. ... Atlanta's bullpen has a 0.42 ERA over a span of 21 2-3 innings during the eight-game winning streak. ... Peralta went 2 for 4 and is hitting .406 over his last nine games. ... Perez had stranded 10 straight inherited runners before Freeman drove in Simmons.