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ATL@PHI: Santana tosses 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball

The Braves got a much-needed day off on Thursday before opening a Fourth of July weekend series against the D-backs at Turner Field.

The Braves have had only two off-days since June 6, going a respectable 15-11 during the stretch thanks to nine wins in their last 10 games, most recently sweeping the Mets in Atlanta to extend their streak to seven straight victories.

To give his team a little more of a break, manager Fredi Gonzalez let the team have a late report time of 5 p.m. ET for Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. finale against the Mets.

"Just giving them a breather," Gonzalez said. "I checked the weather [Tuesday] before we left the game, and it told me the heat index was going to be up there, so I gave these guys a breather.

"I think you need to manage, especially here with the heat in the summer -- we're not even in the middle of it -- I think you need to manage that as much as you need to manage off-days sometimes with the players. Every once in a while, I just get them out of the heat, get them off their feet and let them come in a little bit later and let their bodies recharge a little bit. I though tonight was a perfect time for it."

When the Braves get back on the field, Ervin Santana will get the ball against the D-backs on Friday.

"It's huge for us because we come in from a doubleheader and then the next day a day game," Santana said on Wednesday. "And we got a good series against the Phillies and now we got good games yesterday and the day before.

"So it's good for us. Just come in today fresh and just keep playing hard. We deserve the day off."

Santana has struggled since the hot start to his first season with the Braves. He is 2-5 with a 5.56 ERA in his last nine starts, but he is showing signs of turning it around. He has quality starts in each of his last three appearances and had an ERA of 3.86 in those games.

"I feel very good, healthy," Santana said. "That's one of the main things. So, just go to work."

D-backs: Collmenter making third outing in 10 days
Josh Collmenter got a surprise extra appearance on the mound between his last two starts.

By the time the D-backs and Indians got to the 14th inning on May 26, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson had run out of relievers, limiting his pitching choices to position players or one of his starters.

Gibson sent Collmenter and Brandon McCarthy to the bullpen, and Collmenter came in to pitch the top of the 14th, picking up the win when the D-backs walked off in the bottom half of the inning.

The next day, Gibson announced that McCarthy and Collmenter would switch spots in the rotation so the latter could get an extra day of rest.

In that start -- an outing of 5 1/3 innings against the Padres on June 28 -- Collmenter gave up only one run. He'll aim to continue his solid performance against the streaking Braves on Friday in an attempt to become only the second pitcher in franchise history to win three games in 10 days. The first was Randy Johnson, who won two games as a starter and one in relief in the 2001 World Series.

"To be able to snake a win in that extra-inning game, that's just something that happens," Collmenter said. "You might go a couple of weeks, or a month without getting a win and then you might pick up a few in a row. This game is kind of goofy like that."

Braves: Freeman proving to be a workhorse
First baseman Freddie Freeman is one of only three Major League players who have started every game his team has played this season, joining the Royals' Alcides Escobar and Eric Hosmer.

Not only has Freeman started more games than almost everyone else -- he has played more innings than anyone else, leading the Majors with 767 innings after Wednesday's 3-1 win against the Mets.

The first time the Braves took the field without him was on June 25, when Freeman left the game after being hit by a pitch in the top of the eighth inning.

Worth noting
• In nine games against the D-backs since they traded him to the Braves before last season, outfielder Justin Upton has hit .353 (12-for-34) with two home runs and six RBIs. Comments