Dodgers beat Braves in Freddie Freeman’s return to Atlanta

ATLANTA — In his first game at Truist Park, Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman couldn’t hold back his emotions. He cried when he saw 14 Freeman Braves jerseys as he entered the building.

He cried again during a 13-minute press conference, apologizing from the room moments before answering questions. There were more tears when he received his 2021 World Series ring from Braves manager Brian Snitker.

The pregame was all about Freeman. Doors opened to fans an hour earlier than normal. The start time was pushed back five minutes so Freeman could address the crowd with another moving speech.

But once Freeman wiped away his tears, it was time to play baseball. Trea Turner, Julio Urías and the Dodgers made sure to take care of business and make Freeman’s return to Atlanta a success, beating the Braves, 4-1, on Friday night.

“We love Freddie here. We want to have his back and be there for him in situations like this,” Turner said. “It was cool to see him get that ring and how emotional he was because he loved playing here. I think that’s a good thing, and it’s good for us to be there for support him.

After sweeping a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati, the Dodgers’ offense picked up where it left off in Friday’s first inning against Braves right-hander Ian Anderson. Turner started the match with a single and Freeman walked behind him. Will Smith then slapped a single to left field to give Los Angeles the lead, 1-0.

In the fifth, the Dodgers nailed two more runs against Anderson. Turner threw his 10th homer of the season, a solo shot to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead. Turner is 15-for-32 with two home runs since being moved to the No. 1 spot on June 17, replacing Mookie Betts, who is on the injured list with a broken right rib.

“It’s no secret that he likes first place,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “With Mookie out, Trea has really strengthened. He’s on base, he’s slugged and he’s creating havoc, creating situational opportunities. He’s playing, right now, that kind of MVP-caliber baseball.

The first offense was plentiful for Urías, who allowed a run and struck out nine in six innings. In his last four outings, Urías has allowed just four earned runs and struck out 29 in 23 1/3 innings.

“I thought he pitched baseball well all night,” Roberts said. “He tends to go up. I think we put a lot of emphasis on velocity in the beginning, but the last four or five he held his velocity. … He’s obviously in great shape, and he screwed it up tonight.

The use of Urías is always a hot topic of conversation. The Dodgers have traditionally been more conservative with his workload. But with several rotational injuries, the team will rely on the Mexican southpaw.

By throwing a four-seam fastball at 96 mph on his 94th pitch of Friday’s game, a season high, Urías showed he is more than capable of accepting responsibility.

“I feel like I feel a lot better with my mechanics,” Urías said in Spanish. “I feel like I have the gas to get into the final heats and maintain my speed, and I proved that tonight.”

Friday was an emotional day for Freeman. The whole weekend will be tough for Freeman, who signed autographs up to an hour before the first pitch. But the Dodgers were looking forward to this weekend. They stood on the top railing of the visitors’ dugout to support Freeman in his moment.

Then they went out and beat the Braves in their first game in Atlanta since losing in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series last October.

“I thought about this weekend for a long time, just because I wanted to get my ring,” Freeman said. “But that’s a lot. It’s been three long months. I thought about it a lot. So I’m just glad the first night is over. I have two more.

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