It looked like the Atlanta Braves were on their way to a loss in the series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. However, the Braves rallied in the eighth inning and won on a Juan Francisco walk-off single in the 11th inning.
After two quick outs in the 11th inning, David Ross kept the inning alive with a single. Ross moved to third on Paul Janish's single, and the stage was set for Francisco's heroics. Francisco hit an opposite field single through the left side of the infield to bring home the winning run.
"He's been getting some playing time and he's swinging the bat," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Francisco.
Tommy Hanson, making his first start after a 15-day disabled list stint, gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out five batters and gave up a two-run homer to Andre Ethier.
"I thought I threw well," Hanson said. "Besides the ball to Ethier, I thought I threw pretty good. I was happy with how I threw, but know I can throw better."
Chipper Jones put the first run on the board with a solo home run in the second inning, his third homer in the span of five at-bats. The Dodgers came back and had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Janish and Reed Johnson led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After Michael Bourn sacrificed them over to the second and third, Martin Prado hit an RBI groundout to cut the lead to 3-2 with two outs. Jason Heyward then tied the game with an opposite field single to drive in Johnson.
"Those were big," Ross said of the Braves' two-out hits. "When J-Hey tied it up for us, he gave us that spark to come back, because we'd been pretty dormant other than Chipper's home run. That was a huge home run to give us the lead, then Tommy had pitched out of some jams. They got him a couple of times, but he threw well, and J-Hey and Mike B…that's what we do, we grind at-bats. Nobody gives away at-bats. You're going to have to get us out, especially late in the game, you're going to have to get us out with some good pitches and we're going to fight you tooth and nail."
Chris Capuano was tough on the Braves as usual. Other than Jones' solo shot, he didn't allow a run until the eighth inning. He ended the night giving up three runs on five hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out eight Braves batters.
Jonny Venters earned the victory in relief after pitching a scoreless 11th inning, and Chad Durbin, Eric O'Flaherty, and Craig Kimbrel each had scoreless appearances out of the bullpen.
The Braves will send Ben Sheets (4-2, 2.13 ERA) to the mound against Aaron Harang (8-7, 3.76 ERA) in the second game of the series in Atlanta. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM EDT on Saturday night.
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