LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tony Gonsolin knew he hadn’t allowed a hit to the Atlanta Braves. He was more focused on not getting ahead of himself.
The right-hander threw his slider for strikes and attacked the Braves with an array of secondary pitches while going six shutout innings for the third time in his big league career and first in two years.
“There was no stress,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He was efficient.”
Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the first, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Braves 5-1 Wednesday to take two of three from the defending World Series champions.
“Defense, pitching, offense, that was a well-played game,” Freeman said. “It was very pleasing to us to get early runs.”
The only hit allowed by Gonsolin was Manny Piña’s slow bouncer to the right side leading off the sixth. Second baseman Max Muncy was shifted to the shortstop side of second, and his throw to the bag was a tick slow.
“I wasn’t too confident in my fastball early, but it came around,” Gonsolin said.
Mitch White gave up consecutive doubles to Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna with two outs in the ninth.
Gonsolin (1-0) struck out three and walked three. He spent much of last season rehabbing his right shoulder. He started 13 of 15 games and had a 3.23 ERA.
“It was a good fight top to bottom,” Gonsolin said. “They put some good at-bats together in the series. They don’t miss the ball very much, so I was fortunate to get some weak contact.”
Freeman went 3 of 4 against his former team to close out an emotional reunion.
He visited with his old teammates in their clubhouse before the series opener, reminiscing about winning the Braves’ first World Series title since 1995. Freeman became a free agent and thought he’d be back with the only team he’d ever known, but the Braves signed first baseman Olson. That paved the way for Freeman to return to his Southern California roots on a $162 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers.
“It was a positive series for me because I hadn’t seen a lot of those guys since the parade,” Freeman said, referring to the Braves’ celebration in November.
Freeman’s line-drive homer to right gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead, a 112.3 mph drive that was his second-hardest-hit home run since Statcast started tracking in 2015. He added an opposite-field single in the fifth and a single in the seventh.
Freeman made a sparkling defensive play on Ozzie Albies’ groundout to first opening the game. The Dodgers turned three double plays, including two behind Gonsolin.
Edwin Ríos homered leading off the fifth. His first of the season landed several rows up in the right-field pavilion and extended the Dodgers’ lead to 3-0.
Cody Bellinger went 2 for 4 with a strikeout in another sign he’s coming out of the offensive slump that has dogged him since last season. His triple to the right-field corner in the sixth drove in Will Smith, who walked, and chased Charlie Morton (1-2).
“I was going through some (stuff) last year,” Bellinger said. “It’s a whole new year now and I’m feeling good.”
Morton gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Braves: INF Austin Riley was placed on paternity leave. … INF Travis Demeritte was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
Dodgers: LHP Andrew Heaney (left shoulder discomfort) went on the IL after a solid start to the season. It’s not expected to be away long term. LHP Tyler Anderson will make a spot start Saturday. … INF-OF Zach McKinstry was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City and is on the taxi squad. He’ll likely travel with the team to San Diego. … INF-OF Gavin Lux had a second straight day off because of back tightness. He is to return to the lineup Friday.
Braves: Host Miami in a three-game series starting Friday.
Dodgers: Open a six-game trip Friday at San Diego.