Major Leagues: Braves 11, Pirates 1
By Alan Robinson
PITTSBURGH ó The regulars are returning from injuries and ailments, so maybe their Atlanta Braves backups figured it’s time to take advantage of the swings they’re getting.
Martin Prado and David Ross hit three-run homers to support Javier Vazquez’s six shutout innings and the Braves finally found their missing offense, beating Pittsburgh 11-1 on Sunday to end a five-game losing streak.
The Braves hadn’t scored in 22 innings and the Pirates hadn’t allowed a run in 21 innings, a pair of streaks that ended when Jeff Francoeur’s two-run single keyed a three-run first inning against Zach Duke (2-1). Atlanta kept piling on the hits and runs, finishing with seven extra-base hits among its 15 hits.
“I always felt like that was one of the things I was better at, getting a timely hit, getting a big hit for the team and hopefully I can get back to that,” said Francoeur, who drove in three runs.
Third baseman Chipper Jones returned after missing four games with a bruised thumb and second baseman Yunel Escobar, who strained an abdominal muscle on Thursday, is due back Monday in Washington. With catcher Brian McCann also out with blurry vision in his left eye, the Braves’ lineup was becoming depleted.
“You can do without one person in the lineup, but when you get two or three people out, it starts getting tough and you start pressing to score runs,” Francoeur said. “You can’t do that, not in this game.”
Left fielder Garret Anderson was pulled in the fourth with quadriceps tightness, but the Braves are encouraged that they’re finally getting close to putting the lineup on the field they envisioned.
Prado, filling in for Escobar, connected in the fourth to make it 6-0 and Ross, starting for McCann, went deep during a four-run seventh against Craig Hansen. Prado and Ross each homered for the first time this season.