A little more than a week after saying he hoped to still be hot when the top of the lineup got on track, Freddie Freeman fed off Ender Inciarte's spark and watched Matt Kemp produce the first three-homer game of his career as the suddenly potent Braves offense stole the show during Saturday night's 11-3 win over the Brewers at Miller Park.
Led by Kemp, who scored Freeman on a pair of two-run shots and hit a solo shot in between, the Braves tallied 20 hits for the first time since Sept. 2, 2008. The veteran outfielder doubled his season homer total to six as he became the first Atlanta player to go deep three times since Mark Teixeira against the Mariners on June 22, 2008, at Turner Field.
"Some guys have started off pretty slow. but guys are working their butts off trying to get everything going," Kemp said. "One through nine, even the pitchers, we've got some great hitters. Some guys start out slow, some guys start off fast. Hopefully coming up now, everybody starts clicking at the same time."
There were certainly plenty of contributors to this latest victory as Tyler Flowers matched a career-best four-hit game and both Freeman and Nick Markakis matched Kemp's three-hit performance. The most encouraging contributions of the night might have come from rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson, who raised his batting average from .134 to .149 with his first two-hit game of the season, highlighted by a seventh-inning two-run homer.
"It is just kind of one of those things where you've been working toward something and finally you start to feel like it is paying off," Swanson said. "It is a cool feeling."
The Braves have scored 36 runs over four straight wins after enduring a six-game losing streak within which they totaled just 15 runs. Kemp was on the disabled list for the first two games of that losing streak, and Inciarte provided little from the leadoff spot, reaching base just twice over 25 plate appearances within that frustrating span.
"How do you explain it?" Braves manager Brian Snitker said with a chuckle. "A week ago we were talking about how we were having a hard time piercing a gap and all of that. It can change that quick."
Inciarte has reached safely in eight of 21 plate appearances over the past four games, and the Braves have continued to benefit from Freeman, who aided this latest victory with his fourth three-hit game of this young season. The Braves' first baseman, who ranks third in the Majors with a 1.262 OPS, delivered a game-tying double in the third inning Saturday and then took advantage of the shift as he blooped a single behind third base ahead of Kemp's fifth-inning homer off Jimmy Nelson.
Freeman also hustled down the line to prevent an inning-ending double play just before Kemp capped his memorable night with his second two-run homer in the eighth off Jhan Marinez.
"[Kemp and Freeman] are special," Swanson said. "It is so cool because I get to see it and I get to be a part of it. Not to mention how awesome they are to be around. When you combine somebody that is so good at what they do but yet they love just having fun and being around the guys, they always keep everyone in a good mood and keep everyone level-headed. They are people you want in your corner. I'm blessed to have them around."