Though the Atlanta Braves struck first in the finale of one of the more memorable series of the year, but they still could not manage to string hits together and managed a split with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It seemed Atlanta caught nothing but bad breaks with the bats as they dropped the contest 5-2.
Nate McLouth led off the bottom of the first walk, which was followed two batters later by a Freddie Freeman single that moved McLouth to third. Eric Hinske then launched a ground rule double off Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia to the right-center field gap. Had it not gone over the wall, Freeman may have scored.
That was the only earned run Correia allowed in 6 1/3 innings, even though he allowed nine hits. The fact that he walked only one batter no doubt helped his cause. The other run the Braves got off him came in the bottom of the sixth. Freeman had doubled to to center; Dan Uggla reached on an infield hit, but Ronny Cedeno's throw got away to allow Freeman to score.
The hit extended Uggla's hitting streak to 19 games.
The next inning, after Alex Gonzalez had hit a one-out single, Chipper Jones made a pinch-hit appearance and hit a screamer to third that had "double" written all over it, but Pedro Alvarez made a diving stop to turn an inning-ending double play.
Derek Lowe's appearance was also less than masterful as he dropped to 6-9 on the year. He was touched for three runs over five innings, including an RBI single from Correia to continue the plague pitchers have been on the Braves. Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez drove in the other runs against Lowe in the fifth.
McCutchen also hit a two-run homer in the ninth off George Sherrill to put the game seemingly out of reach.
In a modern baseball rarity, both starting pitchers continued after a 47-minute rain delay, but the real story was who could capitalize on opportunities. Those each team only mustered two hits with runners in scoring position, the Pirates made the most of productive outs.
Although the Braves lost, they lost no ground to the Philadelphia Phillies, who lost to the San Francisco Giants. Atlanta remains five games out of first place.
Friday begins a three-game series with the Florida Marlins. The 7:35 EDT start will see Brandon Beachy (3-2, 3.58 ERA) take the hill against Florida's Clay Hensley (1-2, 2.88 ERA).
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