By GEORGE HENRY
ATLANTA (AP) — Freddie Freeman has no idea where he stands in the NL MVP conversation. He just knows he’s producing big numbers on a team that keeps winning.
“If I have to keep putting numbers up, I’ll keep doing it,” he said. “But I think we’ve got a pretty good team around me to take some pressure off.”
Freeman homered twice off All-Star Lucas Giolito and drove in five runs, providing all the offense for the Atlanta Braves in their 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
The Braves have won four straight are 12-2 since Aug. 16, moving 30 games over .500 for the first time since 2013. They have won a season-best nine straight home games to stay 5 1/2 games ahead in the NL East.
The White Sox have lost six in a row.
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the first as Freeman, a four-time All-Star, homered to right. Giolito (14-8) retired his next 14 consecutive batters before Johan Camargo led off the sixth with a pinch-hit double and Freeman, who began the game tied for the major league lead in RBIs, followed with a tiebreaking, 410-foot shot to center.
“This is Freddie’s team,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s our leader. He’s the one everyone goes to, including me. He’s got big shoulders, and he handles all of it. His perspective on things is second to none. Just a mature individual.”
It marked the first time in seven starts that Giolito, who allowed four runs and four hits, gave up more than three runs. He was 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA over his previous six outings.
“Freeman, one of the best hitters in the league, showed that today,” Giolito said. “I mean the fastball after a long at-bat (in the sixth), that was a poor pitch. But the first changeup I threw him — that doesn’t usually happen on the first changeup I throw to a guy — but it just shows he’s a good hitter. I tip my cap to him.”
Freeman added an RBI single to right off Ryan Goins in the eighth, scoring a runner from second.
Julio Teheran (9-8) struck out José Abreu and Yoán Moncada to strand a runner at second in the first, but he floundered in the second, allowing consecutive walks and a two-run single to Giolito, the pitcher’s first RBI in 13 career at-bats, to make it 2-all.
That ended a streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings for Teheran, who gave up two runs and three hits in six innings.
The White Sox cut the lead to 4-3 in the seventh on Abreu’s RBI single off Luke Jackson.
Closer Mark Melancon earned his eighth save and seventh with Atlanta by facing the minimum in the ninth.
White Sox: RHP Carson Fulmer (right hamstring strain) and LHP Manny Bañuelos (shoulder inflammation) were activated from the injured list. … Moncada was in the lineup despite feeling tightness in his right hamstring and staying in Saturday’s game.
Braves: C Brian McCann (left knee sprain) was reinstated from the injured list and went 0 for 3. … Freeman said he was diagnosed with a bone bruise on the outer side of his left foot after X-rays taken Saturday night were negative. He left the game in the sixth inning after getting hit by a pitch earlier in the game. “It feels like I have a rock in it,” he said. “On the side at 99 (mph) off of it doesn’t feel very good. Got some treatment, took some pain pills and went and got ’em today.”
It marked the second time this season and the seventh time in his career that Freeman has driven in five runs in a game. … Freeman needs two homers to become the fourth Braves player to have a 40-homer, 30-double season. The previous three were Hall of Famers: Eddie Mathews in 1953, Hank Aaron in 1969 and Chipper Jones in 1999.
Ronald Acuña Jr. went 0 for 3 with a walk and has just three hits in his last 31 at-bats. His average has dropped 15 points to .284 since Aug. 13. … Jackson, who allowed a three-run homer on Friday, gave up a single and a walk before Abreu singled with two outs.
Chicago’s Tim Anderson was caught stealing third to end the seventh. Braves 3B Josh Donaldson took C Brian McCann’s throw and kept the tag applied on Anderson’s lower leg as he slid past the bag.
Abreu, who began the day second in AL RBIs, is hitting .421 with eight RBIs over his last 10 games. … The Braves improved to 28-10-7 in series play, 14-4-4 at home.
Atlanta recalled utilityman Camargo, RHP Chad Sobotka and RHP Jeremy Walker from Triple-A Gwinnett.
White Sox: LHP Ross Detwiler (2-4, 5.96) ERA will make his ninth start of the season when Chicago begins a four-game series at Cleveland.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka (10-3, 2.44 ERA) will make his 25th start as Atlanta continues a nine-game homestand with a two-game series against Toronto.