Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Freeman, Heyward power up behind Wood

Young left-hander gives up just one run in seven outstanding innings

MILWAUKEE -- Alex Wood displayed the mental resolve that has added to the promise he has created during the early portion of his career, and Freddie Freeman proved Miller Park does not serve as kryptonite to the power he and Jason Heyward can produce.

Freeman homered twice and Heyward added one of his own while supporting the seven stellar innings Wood provided, as the Braves halted their recent frustrations against the Brewers with a 5-2 win on Tuesday night.

"I'm tired of hearing [Freeman] say, 'I don't hit the ball well here or I don't feel well,'" Heyward said. "Save it. That's the kind of hitter he is. When he's up there not thinking, he can react, put a lot of balls in play and do it with some authority like he did tonight."

Freeman's three hits, which included a fourth-inning single and solo shots in the sixth and eighth innings, were one shy of the total he had recorded in the previous 36 career at-bats he had compiled at Miller Park. But he has not been the only Braves player who has struggled over the past few years in Milwaukee.

Including Monday's 2-0 Opening Day loss, the Braves had been shut out in five of their previous seven games against the Brewers. Atlanta had also lost nine of the previous 10 games played at Miller Park.

"The last three or four years, we haven't really done well here at Miller Park," Freeman said. "It was nice to get the first one out of the way. As an offense, we weren't going to get shut out all 162 [games]. We let [our fans] sweat for the first [13] innings [of the season]."

Recent history provided even more reason for alarm when Carlos Gomez belted Wood's first pitch of the season over the center-field wall. But after allowing the Gomez homer, Wood overcame some early-inning nerves and kept Milwaukee scoreless during the remainder of his seven-inning, 93-pitch effort.

"Mentally, he's a tough cookie," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Wood. "He knows what he wants to do. He prepares better than any young player I've ever been around, physically and mentally. What I mean by mentally is his side work and video. When he goes out to the mound, he knows what he wants to do. That's not something you see from a guy who has [12] starts in the Major Leagues."

Wood, who was making just his 12th career start, surrendered two hits and did not allow a runner to advance past first base during his final five innings. The tide turned for Atlanta's 23-year-old southpaw after the Brewers opened the second inning with a Rickie Weeks single and Mark Reynolds walk. The threat ended when Gomez grounded into a double play after Kyle Lohse struck out while attempting to advance the runners with a sacrifice bunt.

"It's hard for me to bunt lefties, especially when they're kind of herky jerky," Lohse said. "I don't see it. I don't pick it up. That was another big, fundamental thing I didn't get the job done. We could have really put some pressure on him out there."

Lohse's decisive mistake coincidently came after Wood struck out while attempting to advance Andrelton Simmons with a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning. Instead of taking advantage of the situation, Lohse allowed Heyward to drill a 2-0 sinker deep into the right-field seats. Heyward's no-doubt two-run shot gave Atlanta a lead that was ultimately preserved when Craig Kimbrel notched three strikeouts during a perfect ninth inning. Kimbrel's fastball topped out at 98 mph during the dominant frame.

"It's just nice to go out there and give Woody a little cushion," Freeman said. "He battled with the offense for the first five or six innings. But we were able to get some runs on the board for him. The way he was pitching today, we didn't really need any runs."

Dan Uggla aided Atlanta's offensive attack with a pair of doubles, including one in the fourth inning that was marred by third-base coach Doug Dascenzo's inexplicable decision to have Freeman attempt to score from first base.

After Freeman was easily thrown out at the conclusion of that long lumber around the bases, he found a way to trot at the conclusion of his final two plate appearances. The Braves' 24-year-old first baseman open the sixth inning with a line-drive shot off Lohse that stayed just to the left of the right-field foul pole.

Freeman then capped the fifth multihomer performance of his career with by sending Zach Duke's 1-1 slider over the right-center-field wall in the eighth inning.

"As long you keep us within striking distance, we've got eight guys in the lineup that can go out there and put the ball out of the ballpark at any time," Freeman said. "You just got to go out there and do damage control and have some clean, quick innings. If you do that, you will have a good chance to get a [win]."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
Read More: Atlanta Braves, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Alex Wood