Freeman hits go-ahead 3-run HR in Atlanta homecoming as Dodgers rally, beat Braves 8-6

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ATLANTA – A matchup of teams with the National League’s best records was also a comparison of depleted rotations.

Thanks to Freddie Freeman and J.D. Martinez, the Dodgers had more offensive support for their shaky starting pitching. Freeman’s three-run homer in the fifth inning gave Los Angeles the lead, Martinez had four hits, including two homers, and the NL West leaders rallied past the Atlanta Braves 8-6 on Monday night.

Dodgers rookie Gavin Stone allowed five runs on five hits and five walks in four innings in his second start for Los Angeles. Another rookie, Bobby Miller, will make his debut on Tuesday night as the Dodgers piece together a patchwork rotation after placing Dustin May (right elbow pain) and left-hander Julio Urías (hamstring) on the injured list. Two other candidates to start, Michael Grove and Ryan Pepiot, also are on the IL.

The Dodgers used a 12-hit outburst to storm back after the Braves took a 4-0 lead in the first.

“It’s what good teams do, find a way to win,” Martinez said.

Los Angeles won the opener of a three-game series between the top two teams in the NL. Freeman, a longtime Braves star, made the most of his second Atlanta homecoming with three hits to join Martinez in leading the comeback.

Freeman hit his go-ahead homer off Charlie Morton after Miguel Rojas singled and Mookie Betts walked.

“It felt good,” Freeman said. “Just trying to keep the line moving.”

Added Freeman: “I’m more proud Gavin was able to settle down after the first inning. That was a learning experience.”

Stone threw 34 pitches while facing nine batters in the first. Ronald Acuña Jr. doubled over James Outman in center field for his 23rd hit leading off a game this season. Acuña scored on Sean Murphy’s single.

Stone walked Austin Riley before giving up Eddie Rosario’s three-run homer for a 4-0 lead.

Morton (5-4) couldn’t hold it, allowing six runs in five innings. Freeman’s three-run homer gave the Dodgers a 6-4 lead.

Like the Dodgers, the Braves are seeking help in their rotation after losing Max Fried and Kyle Wright to injuries.

“It looks to me like it’s what everybody is having to do,” said Atlanta manager Brian Snitker. “Nobody is immune to it. You see a lot of guys making their major league debuts.”

Evan Phillips (1-0) threw a scoreless fifth. Brusdar Graterol got four outs for his third save.

Freeman doubled in the fourth for a 12-game hitting streak and scored on Max Muncy’s groundout to first base.

Martinez homered off Morton in the second and A.J. Minter in the seventh for his 20th career multi-homer game. The drive in the seventh came after Muncy singled and was caught stealing.

The start of the game was delayed 40 minutes by rain.


There was tension in the fourth when Marcell Ozuna popped out to left field and his bat hit the top of Dodgers catcher Will Smith’s helmet on the follow-through of his swing. Ozuna walked back to the plate with his hands extended as if to apologize. Smith, who missed 13 games in April with a concussion, didn’t seem eager to accept Ozuna’s words.

Acuña came out to escort Ozuna back to the dugout as Dodgers relievers walked out of their bullpen and stood in left field, waiting to see if the situation escalated. There was no further conflict, though Ozuna and Smith exchanged words again in the sixth before Ozuna’s single to right field.

Acuña pulled off an unusual stolen base after walking to open the fifth. After Stone also walked Matt Olson, Acuña advanced to second and then, with no one paying attention, took off for third as Stone held the ball.


One year after struggling to control his emotions in his first return to Atlanta, Freeman had a big smile instead of tears for reporters before the game. Freeman said he felt “a massive difference” in his second season with the Dodgers following 15 years in the Braves organization and said his emotions during his 2022 return were “kind of raw. … This time, it’s been all smiles.”

Freeman tipped his helmet to fans as he received an ovation when introduced before his first at-bat.

Freeman has been reunited with outfielder Jason Heyward, his former Braves teammate, this season. “It’s kind of surreal to come full circle,” Freeman said.


Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw was placed on the bereavement list so he can attend his mother’s funeral. Kershaw is expected to rejoin the team at its next stop (Tampa Bay) and make his next start on Saturday. … RHP Wander Suero was designated for assignment with Stone added to the roster. The Dodgers selected the contract of RHP Tayler Scott, who will pitch out of the bullpen.


Miller will be recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make his debut against Atlanta’s Spencer Strider in a matchup of hard-throwing right-handers.

Jacob deGrom, oft-injured Rangers ace, to have season-ending right elbow surgery

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ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers signed Jacob deGrom to a $185 million, five-year deal in free agency last winter hoping the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner could help them get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and make a push toward winning a World Series.

They also knew the risks, with the pitcher coming off two injury-plagued seasons with the New York Mets.

Even with deGrom sidelined since late April, the AL West-leading Rangers are off to the best start in franchise history – but now will be without their prized acquisition until at least next year. The team said Tuesday that deGrom will have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“We’ve got a special group here and to not be able to be out there and help them win, that stinks,” deGrom said, pausing several times with tears in his eyes. “Wanting to be out there and helping the team, it’s a disappointment.”

General manager Chris Young said Tuesday the decision on surgery came after an MRI on deGrom’s ailing right elbow, but the extent of what is required might not be determined until the operation is performed next week.

Tommy John surgery, in which the damaged ligament is replaced, is often needed to fix a torn UCL, but Young and the Rangers didn’t go as far as saying the pitcher would have that particular procedure. After being drafted by the New York Mets in 2010, deGrom made six starts in the minors that summer before needing Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2011, three years before his big league debut.

DeGrom last pitched April 28 against the New York Yankees, when he exited early because of injury concerns for the second time in a span of three starts. The announcement about surgery came a day after deGrom was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Young said the latest MRI showed more inflammation and significant structural damage in the ligament that wasn’t there on the scan after deGrom left the game against the Yankees.

“The results of that MRI show that we have not made progress. And in fact, we’ve identified some damage to the ligament,” Young said. “It’s obviously a tough blow for Jacob, for certainly the Rangers. But we do feel this is what is right for Jacob in his career. We’re confident he’ll make a full recovery.”

Young and deGrom, who turns 35 later this month, said the goal is for the pitcher to return near the end of next season. Both said they were glad to have clarity on what was wrong with the elbow.

Texas won all six games started by deGrom (2-0), but the right-hander threw only 30 1/3 innings. He has a 2.67 ERA with 45 strikeouts and four walks. He threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees in his last start before leaving because of discomfort in his arm.

The Rangers went into Tuesday night’s game against St. Louis with a 39-20 record, the first time they were 19 games over .500 since the end of 2016, their last winning season.

Before going home to Florida over the weekend for the birth of his third child, deGrom threw his fifth bullpen last Wednesday in Detroit.

“I’d have days where I’d feel really good, days where I didn’t feel great. So I was kind of riding a roller coaster there for a little bit,” deGrom said. “They said originally there, we just saw some inflammation. … Getting an MRI right after you pitch, I feel like anybody would have inflammation. So, you know, I was hoping that that would get out of there and I would be fine. But it just didn’t work out that way.”

DeGrom spent his first nine big league seasons with the Mets, but was limited by injuries to 156 1/3 innings over 26 starts during his last two years in New York.

He had a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021 before missing the final three months of the season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow.

The four-time All-Star didn’t make his first big league start last year until Aug. 2 after being shut down late in spring training because of a stress reaction in his right scapula.

His latest injury almost surely will trigger Texas’ conditional option on deGrom’s contract for 2028.

The option takes effect if deGrom has Tommy John surgery on his right elbow from 2023-26 or has any right elbow or shoulder injury that causes him to be on the IL for any period of 130 consecutive days during any season or 186 days in a row during any service period.

The conditional option would be for $20 million, $30 million or $37 million, depending on deGrom’s performance during the contract and health following the 2027 season.

“I feel bad for Jake. If I know Jake, he’ll have the surgery and come back and finish his career strong,” second-year Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I know how much it means to him. He enjoys pitching. It’s certainly sad news for all of us.”