It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but Atlanta will certainly take it. The Braves overcame a great start from Wandy Rodriguez and got a big day from Brian McCann to win in walk-off fashion 3-1 in 11 innings.
McCann, who didn't start the game, came in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs and two strikes on him, McCann crushed a home run off of Astros closer Mark Melancon. McCann wasn't done with the long ball though as he turned on a fastball from Jeff Fulchino and deposited it deep into the right field stands for a two-run, walk-off homer in the 11th.
McCann's homer gave the Braves a sweep of the struggling Astros, and sent the Braves out west with a boatload of momentum after getting both Chipper Jones and Jason Heyward back into the starting lineup against Houston.
The rest after the jump.
While Atlanta had success against the Astros bullpen, the Braves struggled mightily against the Astros Rodriguez. Throwing a large amount of curve-balls and change-ups, Rodriguez dominated the Atlanta lineup through eight scoreless innings. He scattered five hits while walking two and striking out six, throwing 113 pitches, 68 for strikes.
The Braves had runners on base every inning against Rodriguez except for the fifth, but couldn't break through and score a run. Luckily for Atlanta, Derek Lowe brought his A game as well to Turner Field. Lowe threw seven good innings, giving up only one run, while scattering five hits and striking out four while walking none.
The scoreless pitchers duel finally ended in the seventh inning, as Houston finally broke through against Lowe. Carlos Lee grounded out to short to begin the inning, bringing Houston first baseman Brett Wallace to the plate. Wallace took a Lowe sinker backside and hit it out for his third homer of the season, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.
Houston threatened to add to that lead in the eighth inning as Braves reliever George Sherrill got into trouble quickly in relief of Lowe. Rodriguez led off the inning against Sherrill and lined a single into right to start the frame. Michael Bourn then reached on a bunt single after Sherrill's throw to first was too late. Scott Proctor then came in to try and tame the rally.
Angel Sanchez greeted Proctor with a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third with one out. Proctor escaped the jam though as he got Carlos Lee to pop out to short then struck out Brett Wallace on a slider in the dirt.
Melancon came in for the save in the ninth, and almost managed escape despite getting hit hard. Dan Uggla smashed a grounder to third base, but Matt Downs made a diving stop to record the first out. Eric Hinske then crushed a ball to right that looked like it would get out off the bat. Hunter Pence made a leaping catch into the wall onHinske's ball to make the second out. McCann then pinch hit for David Ross and hit the first of his two homers, this one to left center.
The blown save was the Astros 11th on the year.
With the score tied at one, the game headed to extra innings. The Braves had a chance in the bottom of the tenth after getting runners on first and second with two outs for Chipper Jones. Jones, who looked healthy in his first game back from his knee injury, watched strike three from Fulchino to send it to 11.
Houston loaded the bases against Braves reliever Cory Gearrin in the top of the 11th, but could not capitalize as Gearrin coaxed a grounder to Alex Gonzalez that turned into a double play.
Dan Uggla popped out to start the bottom of the inning, but Eric Hinske followed with a walk to bring McCann to the plate again. McCann of course took a 1-0 change-up deep to right field for a two-run walk-off as it managed to stay fair.
Congrats to Cory Gearrin on his first major league win!
Cory Gearrin- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.
Jeff Fulchino- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K.
Atlanta heads out west for a two-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. First pitch is tomorrow at 9:40 PM EDT.