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Christian Bethancourt walk-off home run lifts Braves past Pirates

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The young catcher's first career home run was a huge one as it was in walk off fashion to give the Braves the 5-4 win over the Pittsburh Pirates.

Happy things
Happy things
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Walk offs are fun. The Atlanta Braves ended their three-game losing skid on Saturday Night with a walk-off home run from the bat of Christian Bethancourt in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was Bethancourt's first career home run, and it came at a perfect time for a team in need of something to go right in the late innings.

Chris Johnson got things rolling offensively as he continued his strong hitting against the left-handed Jeff Locke. Johnson unloaded on Locke in the second inning for a solo home run to center field for his first of the season and another early lead for the Braves.

The Braves added another run to the lead in the third inning. Cameron Maybin led off with a single and then stole second base with Andrelton Simmons at the plate. Maybin advanced to third on Simmons' groundout to bring Freddie Freeman to the plate. Freeman hit a deep fly to center field for a sacrifice fly to put the Braves up 2-0.

Julio Teheran got off to a nice start in his outing by retiring eight straight batters after allowing a leadoff single to Gregory Polanco to begin the game. Polanco singled again to end that streak leading off the fourth inning. After striking out Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run home run to left-center field to tie the game up at 2-2. It was another case of Teheran looking effective for an outing but being hurt by the home run ball.

The Braves wouldn't lose the lead for long. After two quick outs in the bottom of the fourth, Jonny Gomes drew a walk against Locke and then stole second base. Bethancourt then lined an RBI single into left field to bring home Gomes for a 3-2 lead. It wasn't his biggest hit of the night, though.

Bethancourt led off the seventh inning with his second single of the night with another liner to left field. Teheran laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him to second base. Cameron Maybin, Mr. RISP of the 2015 Braves, then came to the plate and drove in Bethancourt with an RBI single to center field for a 4-2 lead headed into the eighth inning.

Teheran retired his 12th straight batter when Pedro Alvarez flew out to begin the eighth inning. None of the 12 batters got the ball out of the infield. Unfortunately, singles by Francisco Cervelli and Jordy Mercer knocked Teheran out of the game after 7.1 innings. He allowed only five hits and gave up zero walks and just two runs at his time of departure. His line wouldn't remain there though after a Gregory Polanco single drove in both of Jim Johnson's inherited runners to tie the game up at 4-4. It would be easy to criticize the bullpen once again, but Johnson did force the grounder he needed against the previous batter, but it was weakly hit, and Pedro Ciriaco could only get the out at first. Polanco's single was off a very tough sinker down and away that he lifted just past the diving Ciriaco.

The Braves failed to score in the bottom half of the inning, and Jason Grilli appeared in a non-save situation in the top of the ninth. He retired the heart of the Pirates lineup in just six quick pitches.

It didn't take long in the bottom half for the Braves to end this one. On the first pitch from Vance Worley, Christian Bethancourt drove an outside pitch right down the right field line. He didn't appear to have gotten all of it, but the ball carried just past the right field wall, nearly hitting the foul pole, and Bethancourt had his first career home run in spectacular fashion.

No chance for the bullpen to blow that lead. Braves win.

Lines and chart:

Name BO PA H HR R RBI BB SO wOBA pLI WPA
Cameron Maybin - CF 1 4 2 0 1 1 0 0 .443 0.93 0.10
Andrelton Simmons - SS 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0.67 -0.04
Freddie Freeman - 1B 3 4 1 0 0 1 1 0 .393 0.68 0.04
Nick Markakis - RF 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0.88 -0.09
Pedro Ciriaco - 2B 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 1.26 -0.03
Chris Johnson - 3B 5 3 1 1 1 1 0 2 .699 0.90 0.08
Juan Uribe - 2B-3B 6 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 .221 0.73 -0.02
Jonny Gomes - LF 7 4 1 0 1 0 1 2 .393 0.81 0.00
Christian Bethancourt - C 8 4 3 1 2 2 0 0 .967 1.33 0.54
Julio Teheran - P 9 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 0.96 -0.05
Total - 35 9 2 5 5 2 5 .346 0.88 0.53


Source: FanGraphs