LAWRENCEVILLE — Five is a good number for Freddie Freeman.
With five days before big-league call-ups, the first baseman is on a five-game multi-hit streak and he capped it with a 5-for-5 night.
G-Braves 11, Bulls 4
What happened: Freddie Freeman went 5-for-5, tying a team record for hits in a game, with four RBIs to lead Gwinnett to its fifth straight win. Matt Young scored three runs and Freeman, Troy Glaus, and Barbaro Canizares all scored two. Vladimir Nunez earned his first win of the season, pitching 11⁄3 in relief.
Stat of the day: Matt Young reached base three times Thursday and all three times the Bulls were charged with an error giving the second baseman a 1-for-5 night with three runs scored and two stolen bases.
Barbaro batting: Barbaro Canizares went 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored to maintain a .337 batting average and keep a firm grip on his IL lead.
Web gem: An inning after watching his left field counterpart make two errors, Wilkin Ramirez made a leaping catch at the wall to save an extra-base hit.
Run saver: A strong relay from Nate McLouth to Joe Thurston to J.C. Boscan saved a run in the fourth. Thurston made a strong throw from shallow center to beat J.J. Furmaniak.
Streak over: Joe Thurston’s six game RBI streak ended Thursday but it wasn’t for lack of effort. He singled in the fifth but it was too shallow for Troy Glaus to score from second and a would-be RBI to center was stopped by a diving catch by Desmond Jennings.
On deck: RHP Kenshin Kawakami (0-1, 4.11 ERA) will try again for his first Class AAA win against Durham’s LHP Bobby Livingston (3-8, 5.79).
The five-hit game ties a G-Braves record set by current Kansas City Royal Gregor Blanco at Durham last August.
His two-run home run in the fifth blew the game open as Gwinnett topped Durham 11-4 to open a three-game series with the South Division winner.
The win was the G-Braves’ fifth in a row and put Gwinnett at 66-66, the first time it has been at .500 since May 10.
Tuesday was Freeman’s sixth multi-hit game in his last seven. In that span he is hitting (11-for-23) with (seven) RBIs and a pair of home runs. The five-hit night earned Freeman a post-game pie in the face from Wes Timmons.
“I was laying off some tough pitches,” Freeman said. “I got a couple of ones to fall. You kind of need that sometimes. Overall it was a fun night and I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Even a few weeks ago Freeman admitted he had pondered the big-league call. Now those thoughts must be climbing forward in his mind.
“It’s there obviously because it’s the end of the season, but I am not trying to think about that,” he said a week ago. I don’t want to put any extra pressure on myself to play better.”
Wherever he is putting it in his mind, it’s working.
But even for a top prospect the Freeman renaissance has played a steady backup to Canizares’ batting crown chase for the past few weeks. The pair are easily the best current one-two punch in the International League.
But as Canizares keeps upping his lead in the average chase, he’s doing it with Freeman chasing close behind.
After Freeman’s big night Thursday he is now batting .324, slipping past Durham’s Elliot Johnson who went 1-for-4, for second in the International League.
Caniares still leads the way comfortably at .337.
Gwinnett took advantage of six Durham errors, but strangely only scored five unearned runs. Matt Young only had one hit, but caused four errors in the game. He reached twice on errors and ended up on third base after a double and a stolen base. Young stole two bases in the game and scored three runs.
Jose Ortegano started the game, but lasted just 42⁄3 innings. Vladimir Nunez, just activated off the disabled list entered in relief and earned his first win of the season. Nunez threw 11⁄3 innings, striking out one in his win.