That's right, folks. As if celebrating Easter a week late, the Mighty Heyward rose from the dead after a 3-day slump, and rose with a vengeance. Jay Hey came up 5 times and reached base safely each of those times, including a momentum-changing solo HR to put the Braves on the board and tie the game at 1. Heyward added an infield hit, an RBI single, and 2 walks to complete his dominant afternoon.
Less dominant was Braves starter Derek Lowe who somehow managed to give up only 1 ER in 6 IP despite walking 7 (!!!) Giants (2 intentionally). That number, which easily eclipsed Lowe's previous career high of 5 BBs, is especially remarkable considering the free-swinging ways of the Giants hitters, none of whom has even an average career walk rate. One thing we've learned about Lowe so far this season: never tell him what he can't do and still win. Give up 3-run and 2-run jacks? Walk 7 dudes? Piece of cake. At this point I don't know what to expect next... 6 WPs? 3 errors in the field? Pitching left-handed? It's all on the table. Never doubt Derek Lowe's ability to win despite himself.
Despite the walks, Lowe did make a lot of good pitches. He just seemed to save them for after he had loaded the bases rather than doing the sensible thing and making the good pitches first. His final line was 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 7 BB, 4 K, and a 0.173 WPA. This was not a "DerekLoweWin"--he actually pitched too well!
(More recap and Awards after the jump)
Giants starter Todd Wellemeyer seemed to have the Braves bats mostly under control, holding them scoreless through 5 innings (though he had some brushes with danger, too). But then Heyward hit his HR--a low screamer hit the opposite way that just cleared the fence in left-center--and that seemed to open the floodgates for the Braves' bats. Wellemeyer started the 7th, but soon fell apart, giving up a single to Melky Cabrera, throwing a wild pitch, and then walking Nate McLouth. Martin Prado (your new NL batting leader!) followed with a perfectly executed sac bunt, which of course necessitated an intentional walk to McCann. That brought up Troy Glaus, who was looking to redeem himself after a couple of defensive miscues. Wellemeyer then hit Glaus(' jersey) with a pitch, driving in a run and knocking himself out of the game.
Brandon Medders came on for the Giants and induced what looked like a sure double-play from Yunel Escobar, but the Giants infield (which had a terrible game, with 2 errors and numerous misplays between them) could not turn it, allowing another run to score. The Giants then brought in the lefty Dwayne Runzler, who promptly gave up another runzler on a Heyward single, his first off a LHP this year. That gave the Braves a comfortable 4-1 lead. They would add 3 more off the Giants' pen, which looked dead tired from Friday's marathon game (in which they all pitched). The Giants ended up with 4 wild pitches and a balk on the night, which should give Derek Lowe something to shoot for in his next start.
Peter Moylan and Takashi Saito pitched scoreless innings, each looking quite good, before Jesse Chavez came in to close it out in the non-save situation. He looked shaky, giving up a run, but just as Billy Wagner started warming up, Chavez got a nice double play to end the game.
The Braves now have a shot to win the series if The Dragon Slayer can take down The Freak, tomorrow at 4 P.M. Eastern (weather permitting).
MVP: Jason Heyward (who else): 3/3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 0.297 WPA
LVP: Eli Whiteside: 0/3, 2 K (in key spots, too), gave up 4 WPs (not all his fault, but still), -0.217 WPA
MVPILE (MVP in a losing effort): Juan Uribe, 1/1, R, RBI, 3 BB (this from a guy who once walked 13 times in almost 500 PAs...), 0.084 WPA
Clutch Play of the Game: Heyward's HR, 0.176 WPA