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Swanson's walk-off hit helps Braves sweep Padres

April 17, 2017

ATLANTA -- After Austin Hedges quieted SunTrust Park on Monday night, Freddie Freeman capped a memorable two-homer game and Dansby Swanson halted his early-season woes with a two-out, ninth-inning single that gave the Braves a 5-4 win over the Padres.Swanson's bases-loaded walk-off single to left field against Brandon Maurer enabled

ATLANTA -- After Austin Hedges quieted SunTrust Park on Monday night, Freddie Freeman capped a memorable two-homer game and Dansby Swanson halted his early-season woes with a two-out, ninth-inning single that gave the Braves a 5-4 win over the Padres.
Swanson's bases-loaded walk-off single to left field against Brandon Maurer enabled the Braves to open their new stadium with a four-game sweep and even their record to 6-6 with a fifth straight win.
Freeman supplied most of the highlights by collecting four extra-base hits, including a game-tying homer in the eighth. But it was Atlanta's rookie shortstop, who entered the game hitting .146, who sparked the walk-off celebration.

"It was good to see the guys fight back," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They never missed a beat after we lost the lead. Freddie had a huge night, and I'm happy for Dansby. He's been hitting some balls right on the button and he doesn't get anything for it, but he just keeps grinding away and putting good at-bats up. That was nice for him to be able to feel that."
Freeman joins elite company
Hedges gave the Padres a lead with a two-run homer in the eighth against Arodys Vizcaino, who became the first Atlanta reliever to allow an earned run in 16 1/3 innings. But Freeman answered in the bottom half of the inning when he capped his second two-homer game of the young season with an opposite-field shot against former Braves reliever Ryan Buchter.
"The mantra of this team is to keep coming and keep fighting," said Freeman, who also had two doubles. "We did that tonight and got the win."

Padres starter Jered Weaver scattered seven hits over six innings, but his effort was thwarted by Freeman's two-run homer in the third and shortstop Luis Sardinas' costly throwing error, which put Brandon Phillips in position to score on Kurt Suzuki's second-inning groundout. All eight earned runs allowed by Weaver this season -- including two on Monday -- have come via the long ball.
"I want to keep the ball in the yard," Weaver said. "Obviously, the home runs have kind of killed me. I felt good overall and was able to pitch out of some situations."

Staying positive: After beating out a potential double play that extended the third long enough for Freeman to hit his first home run, Swanson took advantage of the ninth-inning opportunity he was given when the Padres loaded the bases by intentionally walking Ender Inciarte, who had already notched his fourth multi-hit game within his past five contests. Swanson looked at two strikes before lacing Maurer's 1-2, 97.2-mph fastball to left field to end the game.
"It's one of those things where you just have to stay consistent and stay with what you're doing," Swanson said. "[Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer] is really, really good at making sure I stay within myself, and every day we're working to stay with what I do best. Hopefully, that will propel me to where I need to be."

Limiting the damage: The Padres opened the game with three consecutive singles off Braves starter Jaime Garcia, including one from Yangervis Solarte that plated Manuel Margot and gave the Friars an early lead. From there, Garcia found a groove -- and he found it rather quickly. He escaped the rest of the frame unscathed and wouldn't allow another hit until Hedges doubled with two outs in the sixth. Garcia finished with 6 1/3 quality innings, allowing only one other run on Allen Cordoba's first Major League homer.

"There's two guys on that team that killed us all series -- Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman. At the end of that game, if you're going to have your pick, I'm going to pick the guy that's had one hit the entire series over the guy that's hit two balls out of the ballpark and had big hit after big hit. That's a pretty standard decision. I don't think it's rocket science at that point in time. Dansby got the hit, you've got to tip your cap." -- Padres manager Andy Green, on walking Inciarte to face Swanson in the ninth
Cordoba twice had chances to end the ninth inning -- first on Emilio Bonifacio's bloop double and then on Swanson's game-winner. Both hits barely fell in front of him. It's worth noting that Cordoba replaced Travis Jankowski, an elite defensive outfielder, with San Diego trailing in the seventh. Of course, without Cordoba's homer, it's likely the Padres aren't in that situation in the first place.
"I felt like I did everything I could on those plays, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to make them," Cordoba said through a team interpreter. "I was closer to making that first one. It was right there. The second one was a hit, I think that was clear. But the first one, I felt like I was right there. It just glanced off the tip of my glove."
The Statcast™ data backs Cordoba's assertion. He would've needed to cover 70 feet in 4.1 seconds to catch Bonifacio's bloop -- giving him a 35-percent catch probability. He covered 67. Swanson's single, however, was hit much harder and had only a 4-percent catch probability, as Cordoba needed to cover 48 feet in 3.1 seconds.
Cordoba knocks first Major League homer
Freeman joined Jim Russell (June 7, 1948), Hank Aaron (Sept. 30, 1960), Felipe Alou (April 26, 1966) and Adam LaRoche (Sept. 15, 2009) as the only players in Braves franchise history to have two home runs and two doubles in a game.

The Braves unsuccessfully challenged Margot's infield single to begin the game. Swanson ranged to his right, made a backhanded stop and quickly fired to an outstretched Freeman at first base. The safe call stood.

Padres: After a red-eye flight back to San Diego, the Friars open a three-game set against the D-backs Tuesday night at Petco Park. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. PT. Jarred Cosart -- who took a flight home before Monday's game -- will start, looking to build on an impressive outing in Colorado last week.
Braves:Mike Foltynewicz will oppose Max Scherzer when Atlanta begins a three-game series against the Nationals at 7:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Because of two off-days last week, Foltynewicz will make his first start since his April 7 season debut in Pittsburgh.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.