MIAMI — Matt Kemp’s September slugging won’t get the Atlanta Braves into the postseason. It’s a nice sign heading into 2017, though.
Kemp hit two home runs to power the Braves to a 6-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.
“He’s a really good player,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s a big, strong man and when he swings that bat it goes.”
Kemp is hitting .400 (22 of 55) in his last 14 games and has 33 home runs and 104 RBIs on the season, his highest totals since the 2011 season when he was NL MVP runner-up with 39 homers and 126 RBIs.
“It’s been good,” Kemp said. “Honestly I wish we could be in the playoffs right now and in a playoff race. It would be way more fun doing those type of things and being in a race, but for us to finish strong and show everybody what the offense and what this team is capable of going into the final weeks of the season is very important for next year.”
Freddie Freeman singled in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 26 games and drove in two runs for the Braves, who have won six straight for the third time this season.
“The whole roster is helping the pretty good week that we’ve had,” Snitker said. “Just playing with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. We’re down to nine games left in the season and they’re getting after it. They’re playing like we’re trying to grab a wild card.”
Atlanta’s Josh Collmenter (3-0) pitched seven innings and allowed two runs.
“I’m not going to blow it by a lot of guys,” Collmenter said. “I’m not going to strike them out. It’s using my defense to my advantage and keep them off-balanced and uncomfortable in the batter’s box as much as I possibly can.”
Mauricio Cabrera pitched the ninth for his fifth save in six chances.
Ender Inciarte, Wednesday’s hero with the game-saving catch at the New York Mets, went 2 for 4 with a triple and scored twice.
J.T. Realmuto homered for the Marlins, who cut the deficit to 6-3 on an RBI double by Martin Prado in the eighth. Justin Bour flew out with two on to end the threat.
Kemp’s multihomer game was the 10th of his career and third this season.
Kemp’s second homer was a solo shot to left field in the sixth. It was caught on a bounce by Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow , who also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“Who comes to his first baseball game in Miami and catches a baseball?” Kemp said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Freeman’s streak is the longest of his career and the longest active streak in the majors. It is the fifth-longest for the Braves since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Freeman has also reached base in 42 consecutive games.
Freeman’s two-run triple and Kemp’s two-run homer broke the game open in the third, giving the Braves a 5-0 lead.
“You get down early it’s tough on your club,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “To be down five after a couple innings puts you in a bind.”
Marlins starter Jose Urena (4-8) allowed five runs and four hits in three innings.
“I’ve been leaving the ball a little high when I’ve been down in the count,” Urena said.
Inciarte’s impressive catch in Wednesday’s 4-3 win at the New York Mets is the highlight of his potential Gold Glove-winning season.
“If that don’t win him a Gold Glove, I don’t know what will,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. “I’ve been saying it all along, he’s unbelievable.”
In addition to his impressive defensive plays in center field, Inciarte is also one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the All-Star break with a major league-leading 94 hits.
“He’s kind of burst onto the scene here and everybody is aware of him now and rightfully so,” Snitker said. “He’s as good as it gets.”
Braves: RHP Matt Wisler (7-12, 4.93 ERA) will start Friday’s game at Miami. Wisler has allowed two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts including an eight-inning, one-run performance at Arizona on Aug. 25.
Marlins: RHP Andrew Cashner (5-11, 5.27) will be looking to toss at least six innings for just the second time in his last nine starts.