The National League's best offense churned out 10 more hits and five more runs Friday night, as the Atlanta Braves took the first of three games against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in a 5-3 final.
As has been their custom over the last week or so, the Braves got started in the first inning when Martin Prado doubled with one out off Rays starter James Shields. Freddie Freeman followed on the next pitch with a single up the middle to score the first run of the ballgame.
Chipper Jones singled to start the second inning, followed by a Jason Heyward walk. Two batters later, with Tyler Pastornicky batting, Shields threw a wild pitch past catcher Jose Molina that allowed Jones to score from third.
Tommy Hanson, who was otherwise sharp for his seven innings of work, would allow Tampa Bay to even the score over the next two frames. With one out and runners on the corners in the bottom of the second, Elliott Johnson dropped a bunt in no man's land to score Luke Scott. The next inning, Scott evened the score at two with a sacrifice fly to Heyward.
The Prado-Freeman combo would strike again in the fifth when Prado drew a two-out walk. Freeman made Shields pay for it with an RBI-double. After another two-out walk to Uggla, Brian McCann singled home Freeman to cap off a two-run inning.
Prado would tack on a solo homer, his third of the season, off J.P. Howell in the seventh.
Craig Kimbrel recorded his 12th save with a perfect ninth, but Jonny Venters made it interesting in the eighth when he plunked Sean Rodriguez, who advanced to second on a passed ball. Scott would drive him in on a single, though the run was not counted as earned.
After the sacrifice fly in the third inning, Hanson would retire his next eight opponents on the way to his fifth win of the season. His two runs on six hits brought his ERA down to 3.31 for the year.
The win pushed the Braves' all-time record against the Rays to 16-6 and their lead over the Washington Nationals to 1.5 games. Randall Delgado will look to spoil Alex Cobb's season debut Saturday at 4:10.
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