ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman said before the game the slumping Braves needed an immediate turnaround.
The power-hitting first baseman then backed up his challenge at the plate.
Freeman hit a three-run homer, one of four by Atlanta, and the Braves beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Friday night in the opening game of the interleague series.
Justin Upton and Evan Gattis hit homers off Jason Hammel (1-5) in the second inning. Rookie Phil Gosselin hit a two-run homer, the first of his career, off Jesse Chavez in the sixth.
The Braves had not scored more than four runs in any of their past six games. They entered the game having lost 12 of 15.
Atlanta is six games behind first-place Washington in the NL East.
“Everyone wants to say we can’t panic, but we’ve got to go,” Freeman said before the game. “… The time is now.”
After the game, Freeman applauded Atlanta’s power surge.
“That was a good night,” Freeman said, noting Oakland brought the majors’ best record to Atlanta.
“We always play those teams the hardest, and it was no different tonight,” Freeman said.
Alex Wood (9-9) allowed two runs in six innings — a two-run homer by Nate Freiman in the fourth.
The A’s have lost three straight and five of six.
“We’re just going through a tough time right now,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You start to press a little bit offensively and it can be contagious as a group. You start swinging at some pitches out of the zone. We’re pretty good about looking for our pitch and waiting for it. We haven’t been as good here recently.”
Wood allowed four hits in six innings. Relievers David Carpenter, Jordan Walden and James Russell combined for three perfect innings.
Hammel allowed five runs and six hits, including three homers, in three innings. He was pulled after walking B.J. Upton to open the fourth.
“Three-run homers do some damage,” Hammel said. “Solo ones you can deal with, but that third one obviously was a big one.
“Otherwise I felt great. My body hasn’t felt that good in a while.”
The Braves had their second four-homer game of the homestand and only their fourth game with four or more homers this season. They also hit four homers in a 7-6 win over Washington on Aug. 8.
Before that, the Braves hadn’t hit four homers in a game since May 25 against Colorado. Their high mark was five homers at Philadelphia on April 14.
Freeman’s homer, his 17th, drove in Jason Heyward and Gosselin, who reached on singles. Justin Upton leads Atlanta with 22 homers.
Chris Johnson was credited with a ground-rule double when A’s centerfielder Coco Crisp lost his deep fly ball in the lights in the third. The ball landed well behind Crisp and bounced over the wall. Hammel hit Gattis with a pitch and then escaped the jam.
WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche each drove in two runs, leading the Washington Nationals over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 for their fourth straight win.
Denard Span added three hits as the NL East leaders opened a 10-game homestand.
Tanner Roark (12-7) gave up three runs over 5 2-3 innings. Rafael Soriano allowed three hits in the ninth, including Pedro Alvarez’s RBI single, but held on for his 29th save.
Starling Marte hit a two-run homer for the Pirates, who have lost three straight.
Charlie Morton (5-12) lasted three innings in his shortest start of the season, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks. The first five Nationals hitters reached base.
DETROIT — Robinson Cano homered, James Paxton won his sixth consecutive decision to start his career and the surging Seattle Mariners beat Detroit in a matchup of American League playoff contenders.
Paxton (3-0) allowed one run and five hits over six innings to help Seattle win its fifth straight and ninth in 11 games. Cano and Logan Morrison each scored twice for the Mariners, who jumped a half-game ahead of Detroit in the race for the second AL wild card.
The Tigers began the day a half-game behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central.
Rick Porcello (13-8) struggled badly in his first appearance since pitching the final three innings of Detroit’s 19-inning loss in Toronto on Sunday. Porcello gave up six runs — five earned — and 10 hits in six innings.
RAYS 5, YANKEES 0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb pitched neatly into the eighth inning and Tampa Bay beat New York to become the fourth team in major league history to reach .500 after falling 18 games under in the same season.
The Rays won their third in a row and sent the Yankees to their fifth straight loss.
Tampa Bay also accomplished the comeback feat in 2004. The 1899 Louisville Colonels and 2006 Florida Marlins also got back to the break-even point after dropping 18 under.
The Rays, now 61-61, were 24-42 on June 10. They are trying to become the first club to finish with a winning record after being so far under.
Cobb (8-6) gave up six hits in 7 1-3 innings, striking out eight and walking one. He improved to 4-0 in six home starts against the Yankees. Brad Boxberger struck Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira with the bases loaded to end the eighth.
Tampa Bay has held its opponents to three runs or fewer in a club-record 11 consecutive games.
Brandon McCarthy (4-2) gave up four runs over 6 1-3 innings. New York has totaled seven runs during its current skid, which includes a pair of shutouts.
MIAMI — Aaron Hill and Cliff Pennington homered in the first inning and Arizona held on to beat Miami.
Trevor Cahill (3-8) pitched 6 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits for the Diamondbacks. Addison Reed worked the ninth for his 29th save in 34 chances.
Marlins starter Brad Hand (2-5) yielded three runs in seven innings.
Miami threatened in the eighth, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia bounced into an inning-ending double play, one of four turned by the Diamondbacks.
Pennington hit his first homer since May 1, 2013, against San Francisco. Hill added a two-run shot, his 10th of the season.
METS 3, CUBS 2
NEW YORK — Zack Wheeler struck out 10 in a gritty performance, Eric Campbell hit a three-run homer and New York beat the free-swinging Chicago Cubs.
Wheeler (8-8) threw a career-high 120 pitches over 6 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits. He walked four and hit a batter but overpowered the Cubs in improving to 5-0 in his last nine starts.
Chicago struck out 14 times and has whiffed 91 times in its last eight games, including 16 on Thursday in a loss to Milwaukee.
Jenrry Mejia threw a perfect ninth for his 18th save.
Travis Wood (7-10) gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings, dropping to 0-5 in his last 11 starts.
ORIOLES 1 (11)
CLEVELAND — Mike Aviles homered leading off the 11th inning to give Cleveland a win over Baltimore.
Aviles connected on a 1-2 pitch from Brian Matusz (2-3), driving it onto the home run porch in left field for Cleveland’s second run in the past 22-plus innings. The Indians, who have won four of five, were shut out 1-0 by Arizona in 12 innings Wednesday night.
Scott Atchison (6-0) retired all six batters he faced. Indians starter Corey Kluber struck out 10 in 7 2-3 innings. He is unbeaten in eight starts since June.
Zach Walters also homered for Cleveland. The Orioles tied it in the eighth on J.J. Hardy’s two-out single.