ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning as the Atlanta Braves beat the Boston Red Sox 8-7 on Friday night to clinch the No. 2 seed in the National League playoffs.
Freeman's homer off Jeffrey Springs (0-2) drove in Ender Inciarte, who started the half-inning on second base per current Major League Baseball tiebreaker rules. The drive also bolstered the veteran Braves slugger's case for NL MVP.
"He absolutely should," Braves manager Brian Snitker said about the 31-year-old first baseman winning the award. "The guy is having an unbelievable year. ... He checks all the boxes."
Snitker said Atlanta's Marcell Ozuna, who had three hits and drove in two runs, also deserves consideration.
Freeman was given a rare day off from starting before walking as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. He said he was looking for a fastball from Springs in the 11th and was ready when it came. After a rain-delayed game Thursday against the Miami Marlins, who won 4-2, Freeman prevented the Braves from playing deep into another night.
"I was just trying to send everyone home," Freeman said.
Austin Riley started at first base for the Braves after missing two days to rest a quadriceps injury.
The Red Sox are 0-4 against Atlanta this season, including a three-game sweep in Boston.
"They battled great," Red Sox manager Roenicke said of his players. "Get behind, they come back, kept doing it, so offense, I thought we did a great job. We just didn't pitch as well in the late innings when we got the lead. Everything else I thought was good. It's a shame to lose a game."
Alex Verdugo's sacrifice fly off Shane Greene (1-0) drove in Rafael Devers in the top of the 11th, giving Boston a 7-6 lead.
Kevin Plawecki had three hits, including a tiebreaking single in Boston's two-run 10th. The Braves answered with two runs off Springs, including Dansby Swanson's two-out, run-scoring double to right field that tied it.
Ronald Acuña Jr. hit the longest homer in the majors this season — 495 feet to the top of the left-field seats — to lead off the game. It is the longest homer at Truist Park, which opened in 2017. Acuña admired his blast before flipping his bat and starting his run around the bases.
Freeman watched the start of the game from the stands and was impressed by Acuña's homer. He said it's the longest one he has ever seen and that his first thought was, "Did that almost clear the whole stands?"
After Ozuna's bases-loaded single in the eighth drove in two runs to give Atlanta a 4-2 lead, the Red Sox pulled even. Two runs scored when Adeiny Hechavarria fielded Rafael Devers' bases-loaded grounder off Mark Melancon, slipped and threw the ball into the Atlanta dugout. It was Hechavarria's third error in two games.
Devers' pinch-hit, bases-loaded groundout in the seventh gave Boston a 2-1 lead.
Kyle Wright gave up two hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings in his final warmup for his spot in Atlanta's postseason rotation. He issued three consecutive walks in the seventh before Devers' pinch-hit groundout drove in Jackie Bradley Jr. from third base.
Wright retired the first 12 batters he faced. Bradley homered leading off the fifth, a 447-foot blast to center that tied the game.
Atlanta, the three-time reigning NL East Division champ, will host a three-game series next week.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, the NL West winners, are the league's top-seeded team.