The new-look lineup provided a season-high 16 hits and a career-high four RBIs from Ramiro Pena as the Braves shelled Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for six runs over six innings.
The guys usually on the bench were a significant catalyst in the Braves string of scoring one run in each of the first three innings. Jordan Schafer started the bottom of the first inning with a double and was promptly driven in by an Andrelton Simmons RBI-single. After Evan Gattis led off the second with the first of his three hits, Pena recorded the first of his own three hits.
That appropriately set up Freddie Freeman, who the Braves celebrated with a bobblehead night, and his two-out homer in the third inning.
"With the guys getting a chance to play tonight, giving our starters a rest, they came up huge," Freeman said on braves.com. "They've been doing it all year."
Toronto came back to tie the game in the sixth inning with three runs, though one was unearned. Dickey started the inning with an infield single off Mike Minor. Two batters later, Simmons couldn't handle a groundball off the bat off Jose Bautista, his third error in seven games. That error came back to haunt the Braves after Edwin Encarnacion produced an RBI-single and Mark DeRosa hit a game-tying double.
Minor, who still picked up the win, was charged with two earned runs over seven innings. He has thrown up a 2.33 ERA during his last 26 starts.
"That one inning they scored three, I was trying to pick my teammates up, because Simmons has picked me up so many other times, and I kind of let them down," Minor said. "But we scored three more in the next inning."
Gattis and Brian McCann led off the bottom of the sixth to set up Pena's go-ahead RBI-single. That led to Schafer's two-run single to give Dickey five or more earned runs in each of his last three starts against the Braves.
Schafer's .348 batting average over the last 16 games had people asking Gonzalez whether he'll take B.J. Upton's starting job in center field.
"We'll see," Gonzalez said. "One thing you always want to do is put your best team out there, whoever you think you have the best chance to win a ballgame with. He's playing well right now, but we'll see. Let's enjoy this game here, and we'll see what's going on."
To add even more bench production, Reed Johnson capped Atlanta's scoring with a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth.
After splitting four games with Toronto, the Braves will host the Washington Nationals for a three-game series starting Friday.Tags: Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Baseball, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, Fredi Gonzalez, Jordan Schafer, Mike Minor, MLB, R.A. Dickey, Ramiro Pena, Reed Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays