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Braves beat Phillies, await word on Freeman’s status

Philadelphia Phillies’ Vince Velasquez (28) slides into second and avoids the tag of Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, advancing to second after a single and throw to the plate during the fifth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

The sight of Freddie Freeman being hit by a pitch near the spot where his wrist was fractured last season left the Atlanta Braves revisiting bad memories they hope won’t be repeated.

It was enough to make it difficult for Atlanta to celebrate its fourth straight home series win.

Ryan Flaherty homered and drove in four runs, Brandon McCarthy outpitched Vince Velasquez and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 on Wednesday night despite losing Freeman in the eighth inning.

Phillies left-hander Hoby Milner hit Freeman near the base of his left hand. Freeman winced, stood at the plate for a few seconds and then walked straight to the dugout to take himself out of the game.

Freeman was on track for his best season and a possible MVP run last year before missing seven weeks with a fractured left wrist. He hit .307 with 28 homers in 117 games — his second season playing fewer than 120 games in the last three years — and his time on the disabled list helped send the Braves to a 90-loss finish.

Following the game, manager Brian Snitker said Freeman was still being examined.

“It’s a concern because he was hit in that hand,” Snitker said.

The possibility of bad news made it difficult for the manager to even complete a wish for good results.

“Hopefully ... I don’t know. I can’t even comment,” Snitker said.

The Braves (10-7) won two of three from the Phillies. They have won their first four home series for the first time since 2000, when they won their first five.

Losing Freeman for an extended period could be devastating, even though the team signed Jose Bautista to a minor league contract on Wednesday. Bautista, who will report to extended spring training, was brought in to play third base. The 37-year-old Bautista also has limited experience at first base.

“Hopefully he’s OK,” McCarthy said of Freeman. “I wasn’t here last year. This one doesn’t seem terrible from the get-go. Hopefully tomorrow the tests show up the same.”

McCarthy (3-0) allowed one run and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Flaherty’s three-run homer off Velasquez (1-2) gave Atlanta a 3-1 lead in the fifth. The Phillies got within one in the seventh before Dansby Swanson’s homer off Edubray Ramos in the bottom of the inning put Atlanta ahead 4-2. Flaherty added a run-scoring single in the Braves’ three-run eighth.

Flaherty, who began the day with an NL-best .354 batting average, strengthened his job security at third base by hitting a 93-mph fastball from Velasquez into the seats in right-center.

The homer, the first allowed by Velasquez this season, drove in Preston Tucker, who walked, and Swanson, who singled.

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