Eric Hinske has been on fire recently, and he kept that going in dramatic fashion on Friday night.
Hinske hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies. He tied a career high with four hits in six at-bats, with two singles, a double, and his game-winning home run.
“I’m happy," Hinske said of his go-ahead homer. "I’m smiling. To do something like that in extra innings is great. I’ve been playing for a while now and I’ve only had a couple of walk-off home runs, but this is just as cool.”
The Rockies jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning after Tim Hudson's rocky start. However, Hudson was able to settle down and gave up only two more runs (one earned). He ended the night going six innings while giving up seven runs (six earned) on six hits and three walks to go along with six strikeouts.
“I was definitely confident," Hudson said of the Braves' ability to come back. "It’s usually always a crazy game here. It’s hardly ever pitchers’ duels at this park. I knew if I could hold them to five and put up some zeroes, keep us in the game, that we were going to have a chance to win. I have all the confidence in the world in our guys right now, offensively."
The Braves chipped away at the early deficit, getting a third inning two-run homer from Freddie Freeman to cut the deficit to 5-2. The Braves then had a four-run fifth inning to take the lead, including RBI singles from Chipper Jones and Brian McCann and a go-ahead RBI double by Hinske. When the Rockies came right back and tied the game in the bottom of the inning, Jones continued his storybook farewell tour with a go-ahead solo home run on an 0-2 count.
“We fall down 5-nothing and we know we’re not out of it," Jones said. "We’ve just got to keep chipping away. We got away with some no-no’s here tonight. You can’t walk people and make errors. Huddy walked a couple of guys in the first, and I made a costly error. But 19 hits cures a lot of ills.”
The Rockies then tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI groundout by Tyler Colvin. After the Braves missed out on a couple of chances to take the lead in the later innings, the Rockies made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning against Eric O'Flaherty. With runners on second and third and two outs, O'Flaherty struck out Todd Helton on a full count to take the game to extra innings.
In the 11th inning, Tyler Pastornicky delivered a pinch-hit single to start the inning. Then Hinske, playing for a sick Martin Prado, knocked a 2-0 pitch into the Braves' bullpen for his first home run of the season.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the bottom of the 11th to record his ninth save, but it wasn't easy. Kimbrel gave up an RBI groundout to Helton after a walk to Jonathan Herrera and a single by Troy Tulowitzki. Helton's groundout almost made it through the infield, but Dan Uggla made a nice diving stop to record the out. Kimbrel then induced a routine groundout from Michael Cuddyer to end the game.
“We’ll take it," Jones said of the win. "Fine by me. Long as we get it done. Martin [Prado] got sick today and ‘Ski got thrust in the lineup, and he’s a good guy to have in the lineup because he’s swinging a real good bat right now. Got his first homer today. We’re pretty deep, so we can beat you a bunch of ways.”
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