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Atlanta Braves Use Longball to Push Past Arizona Diamondbacks

August 20th, 2011 at 8:43 AM
By Cody Fields

The Atlanta Braves may have acquired Michael Bourn and called up Jose Constanza for their speed, but it was the Braves' power that gave them a win in the series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Bourn immediately began the Braves' peppering of Daniel Hudson with a lead-off homer in the first inning, just his second bigfly of the year.

In the third inning after Constanza had drawn a two-out walk, Brian McCann made another case for an MVP award when he launched his 20th homer of the year to right field.

Chipper Jones then capped off the Braves in the sixth with an opposite field homer on a pitch low and away.

"One thing I’ve always tried to do in my career is make a pitcher’s strength my strength," Jones said. "Lot of times, pitching coaches will tell you that pitchers want to own the outside corner at the knees, and I feel like that’s one of my strong suits."

Derek Lowe managed to keep his pitches down and away for the first time in a while. Though he only managed five innings, he kept the Diamondbacks from crossing the plate and struck out seven.

Lowe had not especially been in a jam when he entered the sixth inning, but after plunking Justin Upton and walking Miguel Montero, Fredi Gonzalez went ahead with rookie Arodys Vizcaino.

"With my track record in the sixth inning, I think Fredi wasn’t going to wait for the snowball to go down the hill," Lowe said. "It’s something you’ve got to earn. You’ve got to go out and earn the right to keep pitching deep in games. Hopefully next time I’ll do better."

Vizcaino managed to strike out Ryan Roberts and Lyle Overbay and induce a flyout from Chris Young, but the seventh inning and Fredi Gonzalez's short leash caught up to him.

Vizcaino struck out Kelly Johnson on three strikes, but he walked Sean Boroughs and Willie Bloomquist on eight straight balls, necessitating Gonzalez bringing Eric O'Flaherty. O'Flaherty got Collin Cowgill to ground into a force out, but he gave up a two-out double to Justin Upton to plate Arizona's only runs. Both runs were charged to Vizcaino.

After Jonny Venters threw a perfect eighth, Craig Kimbrel secured his 38th save, but not after facing a little drama.

Johnson led off the inning with a bunt single, but Kimbrel got the next batter swinging in Paul Goldschmidt. With Bloomquist batting, McCann let a passed ball advance Johnson, and Bloomquist walked on a full count. Cowgill then struck out swinging, followed by Upton pounding a slider straight into the ground that McCann used to throw him out and end the game.

The Braves inched to within 7.5 games out of first place with the Philadelphia Phillies' loss. Atlanta also increased their Wild Card lead to seven games over the San Francisco Giants.

Wade Miley will make his major league debut for the Diamondbacks Saturday, and the Braves will turn to Brandon Beachy (5-2, 3.43 ERA) in a 7:10 EDT start.

Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrel, Derek Lowe, Justin Upton, Michael Bourn, MLB

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