ATLANTA (AP) — Cincinnati manager Bryan Price was worried when he saw Braves slugger Freddie Freeman hitting only .242 at the start of a four-game series.
Price’s worst fears were realized, as Freeman pounded Reds pitching and pumped up his stats.
Freeman homered and singled twice, a day after becoming the first player in the majors to hit for the cycle this season, to lead Atlanta over the Reds 7-2 on Thursday.
Freeman was 10 for 18 with three homers and six RBIs in the series. The two-time All-Star first baseman raised his average to .265.
“I was really trying to work on getting good pitches to hit and not just going up there and just trying to swing to hit the ball hard,” Freeman said.
Freeman singled in the first inning, then hit a two-run drive in the third that cleared the right field wall and landed in front of the Braves’ bullpen.
“Whoever else is coming into town or wherever they’re going, they might be in trouble,” Price said. “He’s some kind of hot right now and we couldn’t figure him out.”
Freeman has 12 homers as Atlanta’s only established power hitter. The Braves are last in the majors with 29 homers, and no other Atlanta player has more than three homers.
Adam Duvall hit his 19th homer and Joey Votto had three hits for the Reds.
The Braves won back-to-back home games for only the second time this season, improving their still-dismal home record to 9-27. They won two straight at Turner Field against Miami on May 27-28.
Matt Wisler (3-7) ended a string of four straight losses, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. Ian Krol threw two scoreless innings before closer Arodys Vizcaino recorded the final out.
The Braves led only 3-2 before scoring three runs in the fifth off Dan Straily (4-3). A double steal by Mallex Smith and Ender Inciarte set up a two-run double by Nick Markakis.
Straily allowed a season-high six runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Reds right-hander Dayan Diaz, recalled from Triple-A Louisville before the game, gave up one unearned run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings.
BRAVES PROSPECT JENKINS ARRIVES
The Braves called up right-hander Tyrell Jenkins from Triple-A Gwinnett. He was the Braves’ organizational pitcher of the year in 2015. He was acquired with Shelby Miller in the 2014 trade that sent outfielder Jayson Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jenkins, 23, will work out of Atlanta’s bullpen. He was 6-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 14 games, including nine starts, at Gwinnett.
Right-hander Casey Kelly was optioned to Gwinnett.
REDS PROSPECT REED COMING
Price said left-hander Cody Reed, one of the team’s top pitching prospects, will be called up to make his major league debut on Saturday at Houston. Reed is 6-3 with a 3.20 ERA at Louisville.
“He’s a piece to our future we feel very confident is going to impact our club in a very positive way,” Price said.
Reds: RHP Raisel Iglesias (sore right shoulder) threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts in a rehab appearance with Double-A Pensacola on Wednesday night. … Right-hander A.J. Morris was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain. … The team expects OF Billy Hamilton to come off the seven-day concussion DL on Friday.
Braves: 3B Adonis Garcia left the game in the seventh with mild ankle soreness and his status is day to day.
Reds: LHP John Lamb (1-4, 5.14) will make his first career appearance against Houston when the Reds open a series at the Astros on Friday night. Lamb is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three June starts.
Braves: Rookie RHP John Gant (0-1, 5.63) will try for his first win when he faces the Mets’ Matt Harvey in Friday night’s opening game of a weekend series in New York.