Evan Gattis added to his storybook rookie season with the Atlanta Braves in the series opener on Thursday at PNC Park. Though he wasn't in the starting lineup with fellow rookie Julio Teheran on the mound, Gattis hit a pinch-hit go-ahead homer to lift the Braves over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4.
The decision by Fredi Gonzalez to use his backup catcher paid off greatly when Gattis went yard on Jared Hughes in the eighth inning.
"He just keeps getting better," B.J. Upton said on braves.com. "Not a lot of young guys are able to go out, play every day and produce the way he's been able to produce. This was his first off-day in a while, and to come off the bench and to hit a pinch-hit home run like he did today says a lot. A lot of guys don't know how to handle that situation, especially in crunch time."
Pinch-hitting for the first time in three years, Gattis looked at two low pitches before drilling the third over the left field wall. Gattis now has five homers in his first 43 at-bats.
The Braves were shutout Wednesday to snap their 10-game win streak, but Upton put the Braves on the board by starting the game with a homer off Pirates starting Jeff Locke, his ninth career leadoff homer. Locke also gave up a two-run home run to Chris Johnson in the third, who is hitting a National League-leading .438, and a solo homer in the fifth inning to Justin Upton, his ninth on the year.
Justin Upton is the first Braves player to hit nine homers through 15 games, but bigger than that is the fact that the four Braves home runs bailed out another shaky outing by Teheran.
Teheran issued a four-pitch walk to Travis Snider in the first, who was later driven in by a Garrett Jones sacrifice fly. The Pirates then took the lead when Russell Martin started the second inning with a solo homer and tied the game in the fourth with a Pedro Alvarez lead-off homer.
All told, Teheran gave up four runs over five innings, walking three.
"Obviously, as a competitor, he would like things to be a little bit different," B.J. Upton said. "But at the same time, he's keeping us in ballgames, and that's all we can ask."
Anthony Varvaro was credited with the win with two scoreless innings.
Tim Hudson will pitch for the Braves opposite Wandy Rodriguez in the second game on Friday.
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