It is safe to say the Atlanta Braves have put that eight-game losing streak behind them. The Braves defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 behind Tommy Hanson's strong pitching and home runs by Dan Uggla and rookie Andrelton Simmons.
The Braves extended their current winning streak to six games and have won eight of their last nine games. Uggla got the offense started with a three-run home run in the third inning to give the Braves a 3-0 lead.
“That’s what they pay me to do," Uggla said. "It definitely feels good to get a three-run bomb or a two-run bomb, any time there’s runners on base and you can get them all in it feels good. It lets you know you’re going in the right direction, and obviously you’re putting your team in position to maybe win a ballgame.”
Hanson put together a very solid outing, giving up only two runs on five hits in eight innings. He also struck out four batters and walked one. Perhaps the most important statistic, however, was the fact that he went eight innings. He allowed the bullpen to rest, specifically Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty.
“We needed it today," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Hanson's performance. "We were a couple guys short with O’Flaherty and Venters not being able to go. He gave us eight innings of great baseball, and you’ve got to give the credit to defense."
Simmons has provided a definite spark defensively since his call-up, but it was his bat that gave the Braves the cushion they needed. Simmons launched a hanging breaking ball in the seventh inning for his first career home run.
“It was pretty amazing," Simmons said of his solo homer. "I would never think I was going to hit a home run here. It came when I was least expecting it. I hit that ball, I felt like I got it, and when I saw it fly out, I was like ‘really?’ I hit my first home run at Turner Field, the stadium I always watched on TV, so it was pretty cool.”
The Braves also got a stellar performance from Michael Bourn, who had three hits and drove in a run. This was Bourn's third consecutive three-hit game.
The defense played a big part in the Braves' victory. Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, and Uggla all made unbelievable plays in the field to help Hanson and Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 18th save.
“It was flat-out unbelievable," Hanson said of the defense. "It was a lot of fun to watch. That was one of the funnest games I’ve ever been involved in. I threw well, there were a ton of good plays, and it was a total team effort. That’s got to be one of my favorite games I’ve ever played in.”
The Braves will send Julio Teheran to the mound in his season debut against Ricky Romero (7-1, 4.02 ERA) in the series finale. Teheran replaces Tim Hudson, whose spot is being skipped due to bone spurs.
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