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Chipper Jones Homers, Steals Base in Return as Pittsburgh Pirates Down Atlanta Braves

July 26th, 2011 at 2:12 AM
By Cody Fields

Chipper Jones' right knee seems to be just fine after arthroscopic surgery. The Atlanta Braves' third baseman blasted a solo shot in the eighth and singled with a stolen base in the third inning, but it was not enough as the first place Pittsburgh Pirates took the first game of the series 3-1.

Jones came out hacking in his first at-bat of the night as well. He fouled off two fastballs from Pittsburgh starter James McDonald before striking out on a foul tip on yet another fastball. Chipper showed no signs of discomfort on a night that saw him hit his 10th home run of the season and bring his average up to .262.

The other story of the night for Atlanta was one of wasted opportunity.

The Braves left nine men on base and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. They got to McDonald for eight hits in his 5 1/3 innings as he struck out nine men and the Pirates as a whole struck out 14 Braves batters. Alex Gonzalez and Jason Heyward's struggles continued, as they each struck out three times.

Tim Hudson also became a bit of a hard luck loser over his seven innings of work. He faned eight and scattered five hits for three runs and only really got in trouble in the second inning. Hudson walked Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez to lead off the frame, and those walks translated into RBI for Ronny Cedeno and Michael McKendry.

The only other walk Hudson surrendered was in the top of the sixth to Garrett Jones. That too turned into a run, this time on an RBI single by McCutchen.

George Sherrill and Scott Linebrink combined for a perfect eighth and ninth, but Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan shut the door with two strikeouts in the ninth for his 29th save of the year.

Dan Uggla's hit streak was salvaged and renewed at 15 games earlier Monday as the Cincinnati Reds' official scorer changed an error on a one-hopper to Miguel Cairo to a single for Uggla. He then proceeded to extend his hit streak, the third longest active streak in the majors, to 16 games with a single in the sixth inning.

The Braves failed to capitalize on the Philadelphia Phillies' loss to the San Diego Padres and remain six games back in the division hunt.

Tuesday's 7:10 start promises quality pitches as the Pirates' Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.28 ERA) toes the rubber against Tommy Hanson (11-5, 3.06 ERA).

Tags: Andrew McCutchen, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones, James McDonald, MLB, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tim Hudson

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