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Braves smash three homers, sweep Diamondbacks

Braves catcher Brian McCann celebrates his solo home run in the second inning of a game against the Diamondbacks this season.

Braves catcher Brian McCann celebrates his solo home run in the second inning of a game against the Diamondbacks this season.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves displayed the power and pitching Sunday that has kept them in first place all season in the National League East.

The Braves smacked three home runs and got a strong pitching effort from left-hander Paul Maholm in a 6-2 win that gave them a three-game sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“We couldn’t be in a better place, really,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “There’s not a perfect team out there. We’re in first place and pitching good and feel like we’re still not swinging the bats like we’re capable of.”

Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann and Dan Uggla went deep for the Braves, giving them 102 homers, in support of Maholm (9-6), who allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings and earned his second straight win.

“Paul did a nice job getting us deep in the game,” Gonzalez said. “Our pitchers did a nice job the whole series, from the starters to the bullpen.”

Maholm allowed eight hits and two walks, but was the beneficiary of three double plays.

“Paul knows how to set batters up,” Uggla said. “And more often than not it’s a ground ball to somebody.”

The Braves touched up four Arizona pitchers for 10 hits, six walks and scored six or more runs in back-to-back wins for the first time since June 2-3. Starter Trevor Cahill (3-10) allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks and three homers. Cahill is 0-6 over his last eight starts and hasn’t won since May 17. He’s failed to complete six innings in six straight outings.

“Trevor couldn’t find half the plate,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “He threw the ball in the bullpen very well. He wasn’t able to take it out on the field. We’ve got to get him straightened around.”

Atlanta swept the Diamondbacks for the first time since 2011. The Braves have won five of their last six and lead Washington in the N.L. East by 6 1/2 games.

The Diamondbacks struck early with a run in the first inning. A.J. Pollock and Martin Prado led off the game with sharp singles and Pollock scored when Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a double play.

The Braves tied it in the second on McCann’s ninth home run of the season. McCann hit the ball to the opposite field and it banged off the top of the fence in left center and into the seats.

“Goldy in the first inning hits a ball that’s an absolute rocket that’s right to (Andrelton) Simmons and that’s the way it’s going,” Gibson said. “They hit a ball off the top of the wall for a home run.”

Atlanta added three runs in the third on a three-run homer by Freeman, his ninth home run of the year.

Simmons led off the third with an infield hit and took second on Jason Heyward’s single to right. Justin Upton then grounded to short but hustled to first to avoid an inning-ending double play and give Freeman an opportunity to hit.

“In the box score you won’t even see that play,” Gonzalez said. “That was big hustle.”

Uggla gave the Braves a 6-1 lead with a two-run homer, his 14th of the season, in the fifth. It was his first homer since June 9 at Los Angeles.

The Diamondbacks cut the lead to 6-2 when Goldschmidt grounded into a double play with runners on the corners.

Arizona had a chance to trim the lead again in the seventh when it loaded the bases with one out. But Maholm struck out pinch hitter Jason Kubel on a slow curve that was outside and reliever Anthony Varvaro retired Pollock on a harmless fly to right.

“It’s all a part of it,” Gibson said. “We’ve got to pick ourselves up and go beat the Mets. ... It’s no fun. We’ve got to get it turned around.”

NOTES: The Diamondbacks continue their 10-game road trip with a four-game series against the New York Mets on Monday. The Braves take Monday off before starting a three-game homestand against Miami, an Eastern Division rival it hasn’t played since April 10. ... Atlanta reached the 100-home run mark in its 82nd game, the fasted since 2003 when they got there in 63 games.