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Thursday August 25th, 2016 3:59AM

Freeman, Santana help Braves win 8th straight

By The Associated Press
  Contact Editor
ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman drove in two runs, Ervin Santana won his second straight start, and the Atlanta Braves stretched their winning streak to eight games with a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.<br /> <br /> The Braves (48-38) have won 10 of 11 to move 10 games over .500 for the first time since April 29. They lead the NL East by 1 1/2 games.<br /> <br /> Santana (7-5) gave up six hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings.<br /> <br /> Arizona began the night tied with Houston for most losses in the majors with 50. The Diamondbacks have lost seven of 11.<br /> <br /> After earning three victories from June 20-28, Arizona's Josh Collmenter (7-5) allowed five runs, 11 hits, one walk, and struck out three in six-plus innings.<br /> <br /> The Braves made it 2-0 in the first on Freeman's RBI single and Heyward's RBI groundout.<br /> <br /> Atlanta went up 4-1 in the third on Andrelton Simmons bases-loaded RBI single and Justin Upton's RBI walk, but Collmenter stranded the bases loaded when Jason Heyward popped out.<br /> <br /> Collmenter's night ended after Simmons led off the seventh with a double. Oliver Perez, the next Arizona pitcher, allowed another RBI single by Freeman to make it 5-1.<br /> <br /> Santana seemed in sync most of the night, but that hasn't been the case over the last few weeks. After winning 2-0 against the Cubs on May 10, Santana went 1-5 with a 5.96 ERA over his next eight starts before earning a 10-3 victory last Saturday at Philadelphia.<br /> <br /> Santana retired 11 straight before Didi Gregorius singled to begin the eighth. He came out one out later when Ender Inciarte singled.<br /> <br /> After Luis Avilan retired David Peralta on an RBI forceout, Jordan Walden gave up a double to Paul Goldschmidt before striking out Miguel Montero to end the threat.<br /> <br /> In the ninth, Craig Kimbrel struck out Martin Prado and retired Gerardo Parra on a groundout, and Nick Ahmed on a flyout for his 27th save in 31 chances.<br /> <br /> Arizona cut the lead to 2-1 in the second when Prado led off with a single, moved to second and third on groundouts and scored on Santana's wild pitch.<br /> <br /> Freeman, who went 2 for 4, is hitting .365 over his last 19 games.<br /> <br /> NOTES: The Braves announced a sellout with a season-high crowd of 48,815. ... Atlanta's bullpen has a 0.42 ERA over a span of 21 2-3 innings during the eight-game winning streak. ... Peralta went 2 for 4 and is hitting .406 over his last nine games. ... Perez had stranded 10 straight inherited runners before Freeman drove in Simmons.
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