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Atlanta Braves Ride Unearned Runs Past Texas Rangers, Freddie Freeman Breaks Out of Slump

June 19th, 2011 at 9:15 PM
By Cody Fields

The Atlanta Braves took advantage of two errors by the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the third inning Sunday to help them avoid their first three-game sweep of the season.

After a rather pedestrian start to the game, Jordan Schafer reached on interference by Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba. After a Dan Uggla single and a wild pitch by Alexei Ogando to put the runners at second and third, Jason Heyward singled to left to drive in the first runs of the game.

Then, with two outs, Alex Gonzalez skied a popup in the infield. Though first baseman Michael Young called for the ball, Torrealba attempted to make the catch and dropped it – his second error of the inning – allowing Heyward to score the second unearned run of the frame.

The two unearned runs proved to be the difference in a 4-2 ballgame.

Texas answered in the top of the fourth with the only run Jair Jurrjens gave up on the day. Nelson Cruz put himself in scoring position with a lead-off double, followed two batters later by an RBI single by Torrealba.

Jurrjens gave up eight hits in 5 1/3 innings to improve to 9-3 on the year. Though he only walked two, struck out four and lowered his ERA to a stingy 2.11, Jurrjens was not content with his outing or recent performances.

"I feel like my control's not where it was my first couple of starts," Jurrjens said. "I just have to keep my mindset, keep going out there and giving my team a chance to win."

Although Jurrjens got himself in a jam in the sixth inning, Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill bailed him out. Scott Proctor started the seventh, but after Ian Kinsler singled and stole second and Elvis Andrus  flew out, Fredi Gonzalez called on Jonny Venters for 1 2/3 innings of setup work.

Though Venters allowed the inherited Kinsler score on a Josh Hamilton groundout, the only hit he allowed was a double to Nelson Cruz. He struck out two in his extended outing intended to give Eric O'Flaherty a break, who has been nagged by back issues.

"You don't want to rush him back, have him sore again," Venters said. "Everybody… has been picking up the slack, so it hasn't really been that tough."

Craig Kimbrel then earned his 19th save of the year with four outs. With two outs and Andrus at the plate, Diory Hernandez attempted to barehand and throw out the hustling Andrus.

"No, he didn't have to [barehand it]," Fredi Gonzalez said. "But he's trying to make plays. God bless him for that."

Kimbrel then made Hamilton look silly on sliders to strike him out and lock up the win for Atlanta.

"We made our pitches," Brian McCann said about handling Hamilton. "When you make your pitches, it doesn't matter who it is. Good pitching beats good hitting."

Freddie Freeman finally had a case of good hitting to snap out of his 3-for-24 slump, which included 15 strikeouts. He ended the day 3-for-4, including a towering ground rule RBI double in the eighth inning to give Atlanta a valuable insurance run.

"Just a year of adjustments," Freeman said. "In baseball you're going to go through those little stretches. Unfortunately, mine was a strikeout stretch. But I got a couple to fall in, got a big RBI."

Nate McLouth also returned to the lineup after a stint on the disabled list and started in left field. He had a hit in three trips and made a diving catch on a line drive by David Murphy in the eighth inning to save a run.

Chipper Jones missed his third straight game with a strained right abductor muscle. Fredi Gonzalez hopes to get him back in by Monday or Tuesday.

The win, coupled with the Philadelphia Phillies loss to the Seattle Mariners, brings the Braves within five games of the division lead. Atlanta is also a game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Wild Card lead.

Monday's contest starts a three-game home series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Ricky Romero (6-6, 3.01 ERA)  will take the hill for Toronto, and a recently slumping Tim Hudson (5-6, 4.08 ERA) will pitch for Atlanta in the 1992 World Series rematch.

Tags: Alexei Ogando, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Jonny Venters, Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

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