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ATL@ARI: Freeman goes 3-for-5 with five RBIs

PHOENIX -- Freddie Freeman can sure run a campaign.

A few hours after being told he was on the ballot for the 2012 Midsummer Classic, the Braves first baseman went out and played like an All-Star.

Freeman hit two home runs and finished with a career-high five RBIs to lead the Braves to a 10-2 victory against the D-backs on Thursday at Chase Field. He has 10 RBIs in his last three games.

But he had help. Atlanta's offense racked up 16 hits in the victory and Braves starter Mike Minor stymied the Arizona offense for a career-high eight innings.

"Between [Minor] and Freddie Freeman, I think you just watched two good performances," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We got a 'W.' We scored some runs and we added on some runs. It was a real nice job."

That's an understatement.

The Braves have scored 33 runs during their current three-game winning streak. They have won eight of their last nine games.

"Everybody is hitting and that's something we couldn't say last year," Freeman said. "Everybody is clicking at the same time. We are putting together some good innings and we are not stopping."

Freeman is right.

The Braves are only 13 games into the season, but whatever slump Jason Heyward faced during his sophomore year in the big leagues is quickly becoming a distant memory.

Heyward extended his hitting streak to nine games and is hitting .348 for the season. What's more, Atlanta's right fielder also stole his fifth base of the season on Thursday. He had nine all of last season.

The last time Heyward hit safely in nine consecutive games came in -- you guessed it -- 2010, his breakout season and the year he finished second behind San Francisco catcher Buster Posey for National League Rookie of the Year. He finished with a 10-game hitting streak.

Could Heyward be headed for another sensational season? The Braves sure hope so.

"I'm ecstatic with the energy and the way he is playing," Gonzalez said. "And defensively, he is doing everything. It's been nice to watch. He's healthy, and that's the biggest thing."

The last time Minor took the hill, he allowed one run in what was a career-high 7 1/3 innings against the Brewers. On Thursday, Minor struck out nine and pitched out of a few jams to keep his club within striking distance against the D-backs.

The game was tied at 2 after five innings.

"He's heading in the right direction," Gonzalez said. "He's growing up right in front of our eyes. He's maturing and using that changeup, and in 3-2 counts, he's throwing some pretty good breaking pitches."

Minor has allowed one earned run in his last 15 1/3 innings.

"It's just great for the team," Minor said. "It's not really about me right now. It's about the offense and the defense. They are making good plays behind me. Without that, the game could be a lot different."

As for Heyward, he singled in his first at-bat in the second inning and later stole second base. He grounded out in the fourth inning and doubled on a soft line drive to left field in the sixth to score catcher Brian McCann.

The outfielder eventually scored from second on a soft liner to shallow center field off the bat of third baseman Juan Francisco. Heyward made a head-first slide for what appeared to be a close play at the plate, but D-backs catcher Henry Blanco dropped the ball and the Braves pulled ahead, 5-2.

Freeman followed with a two-run home run that scored Martin Prado in the top of the seventh to extend the lead to 7-2. Freeman's first-inning homer off D-backs starter Josh Collmenter was also a two-run shot that scored Prado to give the Braves an early 2-0 advantage.

Minor threw 112 pitches and believed he could have finished the game. Jonny Venters pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the victory.

"[Minor's] got good stuff, in and out, fastball, changeup and late life on all his pitches," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's about as good as we've seen this year. He threw the ball really well. You have to give him credit."

Prado added a two-run double in the eighth inning to push the Braves ahead, 9-2. Freeman followed with a double and another RBI to cap his sensational night.

"It's nice to have Mike pitch great and score some runs for him," Freeman said. "Hopefully, we can carry that into tomorrow." Comments