LOS ANGELES — Tony Gonsolin knew he hadn't allowed a hit to the Atlanta Braves. The Los Angeles Dodgers starter was more focused on not getting ahead of himself.
The 27-year-old right-hander threw his slider for strikes and attacked the World Series champions' lineup with an array of secondary pitches Wednesday afternoon, going six scoreless innings for the third time in his MLB career and the first time in two years.
"There was no stress," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He was efficient."
Freddie Freeman staked Gonsolin to a quick lead by hitting a two-run homer in the first inning, and Los Angeles won 5-1 to take two of three from Atlanta in a rematch of the past two National League Championship Series.
"Defense, pitching, offense — that was a well-played game," Freeman said. "It was very pleasing to us to get early runs."
The only hit allowed by Gonsolin was Atlanta catcher Manny Piña's slow bouncer to the right side leading off the sixth. Second baseman Max Muncy was shifted to the shortstop side of second, and his throw to the bag was a tick slow. Mitch White gave up consecutive doubles to Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna with two outs in the top of the ninth.
"I wasn't too confident in my fastball early, but it came around," said Gonsolin (1-0), who struck out three batters and walked three.
Gonsolin spent much of 2021 rehabbing his right shoulder as he started 13 of 15 games and had a 3.23 ERA. In his first two starts this season, he allowed five hits and a walk in four innings against the Colorado Rockies and allowed three hits and three walks in four innings against the Cincinnati Reds.
Atlanta, which lost Monday's series opener 7-4, avoided being swept with Tuesday's 3-1 win in which Los Angeles-area native Max Fried was dominant on the mound in a seven-inning outing.
"It was a good fight top to bottom," Gonsolin said. "They put some good at-bats together in the series. They don't miss the ball very much, so I was fortunate to get some weak contact."
Los Angeles (9-3) had swept two games against the Minnesota Twins and four against the Reds ahead of the Braves' visit. Atlanta (6-8), which has yet to win a series this year, headed home for its first day off of the regular season before opening a three-game set against the Miami Marlins on Friday.
Freeman went 3-of-4 against his former team on Wednesday to close out an emotional reunion.
The five-time All-Star visited with his old teammates in their clubhouse before the series opener, reminiscing about winning the Braves' first World Series title since 1995. Freeman became a free agent and thought he'd be back with the only team he'd ever known as a pro baseball player, but the Braves traded a bundle of prospects to the Oakland Athletics for Atlanta native Matt Olson, then signed the 28-year-old first baseman to a long-term contract.
Soon after that, Freeman returned to his Southern California roots on a $162 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers.
"It was a positive series for me because I hadn't seen a lot of those guys since the parade," Freeman said, referring to the Braves' celebration in November.
The Dodgers went up 2-0 on Freeman's line-drive homer to right field, a 112.3 mph blast that was his second-hardest-hit home run since Statcast started tracking in 2015. He added an opposite-field single in the fifth and a single in the seventh.
The 32-year-old first baseman also made a sparkling defensive play on Ozzie Albies' groundout to open the game. The Dodgers turned three double plays, including two behind Gonsolin.
Edwin Ríos went deep leading off the bottom of the fifth. His first homer of the season landed several rows up in the right-field pavilion and made it 3-0.
Cody Bellinger was 2-for-4 with a strikeout in another sign he's coming out of the offensive slump that has dogged him since last season. His triple to the right-field corner in the sixth drove in Will Smith, who walked, and chased Charlie Morton (1-2).
"I was going through some (stuff) last year," Bellinger said. "It's a whole new year now, and I'm feeling good."
Morton gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
The Braves were without third baseman Austin Riley, who was placed on paternity leave. They recalled infielder Travis from Triple-A Gwinnett.