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Tuesday July 5th, 2022 6:11PM

Freeman HR ahead of emotional return, Dodgers sweep Reds

By The Associated Press
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CINCINNATI (AP) — Freddie Freeman insisted he hasn't had much time yet to ponder his pending return to Atlanta, where he was the beloved face of the Braves franchise and helped bring a World Series championship to the city last season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, who hit a home run drove in three runs in a 10-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, has been brushing aside the questions about what's sure to be an emotional weekend.

“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” he said. “Just looking forward to getting home and seeing my family. They’ve been in Atlanta for a couple days. I've been asked a couple times, and I just kind of say no, not (talking) right now. All I care about is getting home to my family. Tomorrow you can ask me those questions, and I’ll see what kind of emotions I have going on tomorrow.”

After a dozen years in Atlanta and last year's World Series win, Freeman became a free agent and signed a $162 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers — at 32, he's hitting .303 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs.

Freeman and the Dodgers will pull into Atlanta with momentum. They swept the Reds, scoring 26 runs and banging out 42 hits in the three games.

Freeman had a season-high five RBIs in an 8-2 win in the series opener on Tuesday, and collected 10 in the series.

“We’re getting hits. It’s baseball. It’s hard,” he said. “We’ve been going through ups and downs through the season and we’re on the ups right now.”

Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Will Smith and Justin Turner also homered for the NL West-leading Dodgers. They outscored the Reds 52-18 in winning all seven games against them this year.

Clayton Kershaw (5-1) allowed one run and seven hits through six innings. Kershaw left after 80 pitches, lowering his season ERA to an even 2.00.

“Just a fantastic performance across the board,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Cincinnati has lost seven straight and is an NL worst 23-46.

Reds rookie Hunter Greene (3-8) — despite hitting 100 mph with his fastball at least five times early in the game — surrendered six runs and nine hits, including three homers, in five innings.

Freeman hit a towering, two-run homer to center field in the third. Bellinger's two-run drive in the fourth made it 5-0. Freeman added an RBI single in the eighth.

Tommy Pham hit a three-run homer as the Reds scored four in the seventh inning off reliever Phil Bickford.

“We care about winning. This is the only thing we care about,” Reds manager David Bell said. "To be able to go out and not get it done is very frustrating. We’ve all been through it before, and we also know how to get through to the other side.”

HAVE A SEAT

Bell started an all right-handed-hitting lineup against the lefty Kershaw. That means Joey Votto got a day off, and Mike Moustakas didn't start for the second straight day. Moustakas is hitting .212 with three homers and 14 RBIs. He pinch-hit in the eighth and hit into a double play. Votto is hitting .209 with five homers and 22 RBIs. Three of the homers have come this month.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: Transferred INF Edwin Ríos (right hamstring strain) to the 60-day injured list.

Reds: LHP Nick Lodolo (back) was scheduled to make a rehab start Thursday night at Triple A-Louisville. ... RHP Justin Dunn (shoulder) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend at High A-Dayton. ... OF Tyler Naquin (quad) ran the bases without issue, but there is still no timetable for his return.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: Move on to Atlanta for a three-game series. Ian Anderson (6-3, 4-35 ERA) is the scheduled Braves starter against lefty Julio Urías (4-6, 2.56). Anderson allowed no runs and three hits and struck out six through 6 2/3 innings in beating the Cubs on Sunday. Urías gave up just a run and two hits through six in a win over the Guardians on Saturday.

Reds: Rookie right-hander Graham Ashcraft (3-1, 3.51 ERA) is the scheduled starter against San Francisco right-hander Alex Cobb in the opener of a weekend series against the Giants. Ashcraft surrendered five runs and eight hits over five innings in the Reds loss to the Brewers last Saturday. Cobb threw four innings against the Pirates Sunday, allowing two runs and four hits in a no-decision.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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