In the two weeks since the Atlanta Braves called up Andrelton Simmons, he was widely expected to provide superior defense, but he has also provided some pop at the plate. He atoned for an error that led to a run with a go-ahead homer to snap the Braves' four-game losing streaks to take the first game by a 4-2 final with the Baltimore Orioles at Turner Field on Friday.
Apart from a Brian McCann solo homer in the first inning, the Braves had accomplished their recent tradition of not capitalizing on run scoring opportunities, and when Simmons' error in the fourth paved the way for the Orioles to score their only two runs of the game, it seemed the Braves were on their way to another crushing loss.
Matt Diaz hit a single with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning off Baltimore starter Brian Matusz. Two batters later, Simmons skimmed his second career home run over the left field wall to give the Braves a 3-2 lead.
Atlanta would tack on another run that inning when a pinch-hitting Jack Wilson hit a triple. He was driven in by an infield single by Michael Bourn.
The homer was the highlight of Simmons' second three-hit night in two weeks to bring his average up to .333. It also made up for a rushed throw he made on a Mark Reynolds ground ball that led to a two-run fourth inning for the O's. Reynolds would be driven in by a Wilson Betemit double, reaching third on an error by Bourn. Steve Pearce would drive in the second run with a sacrifice fly.
Simmons' bomb took a loss away from Tommy Hanson, who only allowed two unearned runs in 5 1/3 innings despite walking six batters.
Hanson managed to get out trouble in the second when the Orioles loaded the bases with a double and two walks, but Matusz grounded out to end the threat. After loading the bases with a single and two walks in the third, Hanson induced Matt Wieters to ground into a double play to end that inning.
In an fairly amazing statistic, the Braves and Orioles combined for 13 base runners through the first three innings, but the only run was via McCann's home run.
McCann has been on fire recently with three consecutive multi-hit games and homers in two straight games. During that run, his batting average climbed 15 points to .249.
Brandon Beachy (5-4) will look to regain his command and help the Braves win the series opposite Jason Hammel (6-2) in a 7:15 start on Saturday.
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