In a battle of former Braves pitching prospects, both Julio Teheran and Jeff Locke struggled mightily tonight. The Braves' offense proved the difference in this one though, as 4 different Atlanta hitters went deep to account for all six Braves' runs.
B.J. Upton starting things off with a bang in the first, lining the third pitch he saw from former Brave Jeff Locke into the left field seats. Locke hung an 0-2 breaking ball to the elder Upton who didn't miss, hitting it for the ninth leadoff home run of his career.
The Braves' 1-0 lead was short-lived however, as Julio Teheran immediately allowed a run to the Pirates in the bottom of the first. A one-out walk to Travis Snider and a bloop double to Andrew McCutchen put runners on second and third for Garrett Jones. Jones, another former Braves prospect, lifted a sacrifice fly to center to knot the score at 1.
The Pirates took the lead in the bottom of the second when Russell Martin took a 3-1 fastball from Teheran and clubbed it to the walkway in left-center field. It was Martin's first homer of the year and put the Pirates up 2-1.
Pittsburgh's lead didn't last long (sensing a theme here?) as the Braves took it right back in the 3rd. After B.J. and Jason Heyward made 2 quick outs, Justin Upton strolled to the plate. Jeff Locke wanted nothing to do with him, walking the Braves left fielder on 4 straight pitches. That brought up Chris Johnson, who was hitting cleanup without Evan Gattis in the lineup. Johnson saw one ball before demolishing a fastball to straightaway center field for his 2nd home run of the year and a 3-2 Braves lead.
Teheran pitched out of trouble in the 3rd, but had no such luck in the 4th. Pedro Alvarez led off the inning, and promptly tied the game up, utterly obliterating an 0-1 pitch to dead center field. B.J. barely even turned to watch it fly as it hit halfway up the batter's eye in center. It was a mammoth shot, and tied the game up at 3.
Justin Upton untied it a half inning later, hammering a long home run to left on a 3-1 count. It was Upton's major league-best 9th home run of the year, and put the Braves up 4-3.
Alas, it was another lead Teheran couldn't hold, as he gave up doubles to Travis Snider and Garrett Jones in the bottom of the 5th to tie the game at 4 all. Teheran managed to escape further damage in the inning, but lost his chance at a win when he was pulled after the 5th. It was a rough night for Teheran, who allowed 7 hits and 3 walks (one intentional) across 5 innings of work. He had trouble locating his pitches all night, and if not for some timely strikeouts and a double play, the damage could have been way worse.
With the score knotted at 4-4 after 5 innings, it came down to a battle of the bullpens. Atlanta struck first against the Pittsburgh pen and Jared Hughes in the 8th inning. After Andrelton Simmons walked, and Gerald Laird bunted him over to second, Fredi then brought in Evan Gattis to pinch hit. Gattis didn't disappoint, wrapping a towering home run around the left field foul pole. It was his 5th home run of the year, and the Braves' 4th of the night.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in his usual dominating fashion, nailing down a 6-4 Braves win. It was Kimbrel's 7th save of the year. Anthony Varvaro pitched two perfect innings in relief of Teheran to pick up his first win of the year.
With the win, Atlanta improves to 13-2, and puts another half a game between them and the idle Nationals.
The Braves and the Pirates play again tomorrow, at 7:05 PM. Wandy Rodriguez will take the mound for the Bucs and Atlanta will counter with Tim Hudson.