After a relatively easy win yesterday in the first game of the series, we all knew the Braves couldn't go much longer without another extra-inning nail biter. That is what we got today, as it took the Braves 11 innings to finally put away the Pirates 4-2 thanks to a pinch-hit two-run homer from Brooks Conrad.
The sweep of the Pirates gives Atlanta a 3-4 record on the road trip, not too shabby considered they scored 17 runs total in the seven games.
Atlanta got the scoring going quickly in the first inning, as Jordan Schafer led off the inning with a double to right field that our old friend Matt Diaz couldn't get to. A good defensive right fielder most likely catches it, but it was nice to see Schafer hitting the ball hard and showing some power.
I mentioned Schafer's obnoxiously large helmet in last night's recap, and it turns out he was wearing one of the bat boy's helmets because Atlanta didn't have one small enough to fit his head.
Alex Gonzalez hit a soft single over the head of Neil Walker to advance Schafer to third, and a clean-shaven Chipper Jones singled to right to score Schafer and give Atlanta a 1-0 lead. The Braves had a chance to add to their lead, but Pirates starter James McDonald got Brian McCann to pop out and Eric Hinske to ground into a double play to end the inning.
The rest after the jump..
Braves starter Mike Minor got into a first inning jam with runners on first and third, but struck out Ryan Doumit to end the threat.
Atlanta got exactly what they needed from Minor in his spot start, as he threw 5.2 innings of seven hit ball, giving up only one run (earned) while walking two and striking out five.
Pittsburgh got that one run off of Minor in third inning, as Jose Tabata led off the inning with a single. Tabata stole second, and scored on a single from Steven Pearce to tie the game at one.
The Braves took the lead again in the sixth, as Eric Hinske laid some more big damage on the Pirates, crushing a two-out homer to right field off of McDonald to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead.
McDonald would exit the game after the sixth, leaving with a final line of six innings and six hits, giving up two runs (both earned) while walking one and striking out six.
Back-to-back two-out singles ending Mike Minor's day, but Scott Proctor came in and got a grounder from Ronny Cedeno to get out of the jam.
Eric O'Flaherty came in to pitch the seventh, and had a rare rough outing. Jose Tabata singled again but was picked off trying to steal second. The pick-off couldn't have come at a better time, as Steven Pearce followed it immediately with a homer to left to tie the game at two.
That would be all the scoring until the 11th inning, as the Braves got two innings of scoreless relief from Jonny Venters and a scoreless tenth from George Sherrill.
After pitching a scoreless tenth, Pittsburgh sent out Jeff Karstens for another inning of work. Brian McCann singled with one out bringing up pinch hitter Brooks Conrad. After falling behind in the count 1-2, Conrad crushed a slider from Karstens into the right-center field stands to put Atlanta up 4-2.
Craig Kimbrel came in and slammed the door with his second 1-2-3 inning in as many days. Kimbrel got two soft pop-outs and a soft grounder from Ronny Cedeno to end the game and give him his 14th save on the season.
George Sherrill earned the win with his scoreless inning of work.
Atlanta has an off day tomorrow as they travel home to Turner Field where they will start a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.