The Braves bullpen proved to be not as bad as the Diamondbacks as the Braves came away with the victory despite blowing a 5 run lead late in the game. Brooks Conrad got the big 9th inning started with a single and stole 2nd after a Melky Cabrera strikeout. Pinch hitter Brian McCann got the green light on 3-0 and took a Chad Qualls pitch through the hole on the right side of the infield. Conrad came racing around third and barely beat a strong throw from Justin Upton as Brooks snuck around a well-blocked plate by catcher John Hester. Atlanta tacked on 3 more insurance runs thanks to hits by Martin Prado and Jason Heyward, and a sacrifice fly from Troy Glaus.
This was yet another back-and-forth battle between two of the higher scoring offenses in the National League. Atlanta put together a 5 run 5th inning but Christhian Martinez and Jonny Venters combined for 5 runs allowed in just 1.1 innings pitched. None of the 3 runs Venters allowed to score were earned, although that is due to Jonny committing a throwing error on what could have been a double play. Billy Wagner came in to pitch the 9th but did not have his best stuff. He allowed the Diamondbacks to load the bases, but with 1 out struck out Rusty Ryal and Chris Snyder to end the game.
David Ross and Martin Prado both had solid days at the plate. Ross came through with 2 big hits including an RBI double, and Martin Prado reached base 5 times with 3 singles and 2 walks. Chris Young hit his 10th home run of the year off of Martinez in the 7th inning, the only home run of the game. The man Prado replaced at 2nd base, Kelly Johnson, had another huge day against the Braves and was the main culprit in the Diamondbacks 3 run 8th inning. Kelly came up with the bases loaded against Venters and hit a double down the line, plating all 3 baserunners and tying the game at 7.
Tommy Hanson threw a career high 121 pitches through just 5.1 innings. He struck out 10 and was effective aside from a long 3rd inning. Dontrelle Willis could not find the zone the entire game. He lasted just 4 innings while walking 6, but he was charged with just 2 earned runs. Chad Qualls and Cesar Valdez allowed the rest as they combined for 1 full inning and allowed 9 runs to come across to score.
This was definitely a wild one, and thankfully the Braves were able to come out on top. It would have been a heartbreaking loss considering they had a 5 run lead as late as the 7th inning. It wasn't a greatly played or greatly pitched game, but a win is a win. The Braves split the series 2-2 and are sitting at 4-4 as they head into Minnesota to close out the 11 game road trip.
Tomorrow night Tim Hudson (6-1, 2.44 ERA) squares off with Francisco Liriano (5-3, 3.10 ERA) and the Minnesota Twins at 8:10 EST as the Braves play their first interleague game of the year and start their first ever series at Target Field.