Sports Network | September 6, 2010
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Neil Walker’s two-run homer in the sixth inning proved to be the difference, as the Pittsburgh Pirates edged the Atlanta Braves, 3-1, in the opener of a three-game set at PNC Park.
Jose Tabata added a single, RBI and scored a run for Pittsburgh, which had dropped seven of nine entering the contest.
Brian Burres (3-3), starting for Jeff Karstens, who was unable to go due to right shoulder soreness, gave his club a solid six-inning outing. The lefty yielded one run on five hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter in making his first start since May 29. Joel Hanrahan worked a scoreless ninth to record his fourth save of the season.
“I can’t say enough of the job he did out there today,” said Pirates manager John Russell about Burres. “He kept us in the game. We knew coming in facing the three pitchers we’re going to face that it’s going to be tough and he did a great job for us.”
Derrek Lee went 2-for-3 with a run scored on his 35th birthday, while David Ross supplied the only offense with a sacrifice fly for the Braves, who have lost four of five, but still sit atop the National League East now by only a half-game over Philadelphia. The Phillies dropped the opener of a day/night doubleheader to Florida on Monday, but then won the nightcap at Citizens Bank Park.
Tommy Hanson (9-11) suffered the loss after allowing three runs — two earned — on four hits and a pair of walks in six innings. The right-hander struck out four.
“We had some hits and we had some runners,” said Atlanta manager Bobby Cox. “We just didn’t get the big hit to get back in the game. We thought we were going to get it just about every inning but it never happened.”
Tabata’s RBI groundout in the first scored Andrew McCutchen, who led off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on an error by catcher Ross, giving the Pirates an early lead.
The Braves loaded the bases with nobody out in the second and pulled even on Ross’ sac fly. Burres worked out of further damage by retiring the next two hitters.
Starting pitching limited the offensive chances, but Lee and Matt Diaz reached on back-to-back two-out singles in the sixth. After a brief mound visit by Pirates manager John Russell, Burres stayed in and got Alex Gonzalez to bounce into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
In the home sixth, Tabata led off with a single and scored when Walker hammered a fastball over the fence in straightaway center to put the Pirates up 3-1. It gave Walker a 13-game hitting streak.
Chris Resop took over for Burres in the seventh and proceeded to load the bases with two outs on a single and two walks, but Martin Prado grounded out weakly to third to end the threat.
The Braves put runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth off Evan Meek, but again came up empty when Nate McLouth grounded out to first.
Hanrahan came on for the top of the ninth and gave up a two-out single to Jason Heyward before setting down Prado on a fly ball to right that ended the game.
Despite the loss, Atlanta has still won eight of the last 12 overall meetings between the teams…The Braves went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10, while Pittsburgh left only three men on base.