Andrelton Simmons' base hit to right field plated the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 3-2 series-opening win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Turner Field.
The win brings a franchise-record 12-game home losing streak to a screeching halt and was the first victorious night on the home field since August 24.
Adonis Garcia reached base to begin the ninth, as Justin Smoak was unable to corral a short hop on what would have been a terrific play by infielder Darwin Barney up the middle. Todd Cunningham came on to pinch run for Garcia, and he advanced to third on A.J. Pierzynski's base hit through the right side of the infield.
"The baserunning from Cunningham, going from first to third (on the hit), and making the winning run at third with no outs was a big part of the game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after the game.
Christian Bethancourt took Pierzynski's spot on the base paths and stole second to set the stage for Cameron Maybin. He was unable to get the job done, grounding out to second, but Simmons delivered with a hit to the same side of the field to end the game.
Pierzynski had another tremendous night at the plate, with a three-hit game (including a double) to raise his season average to .296.
"That's good to see him do that," Gonzalez said.
The Blue Jays kicked off the scoring with a run in the top of the second. A leadoff walk hurt Julio Teheran, as Smoak eventually came around to score on a Cliff Pennington single.
Atlanta crossed the plate in the bottom half of the inning to even things up. Garcia led off the inning with a hit and was followed by a Pierzynski double. Garcia scored on a groundout from Simmons. The Braves would take a brief lead after three innings of play, as a Nick Markakis doubled and scored following a Daniel Castro sacrifice bunt and a fielding error.
Garcia and Markakis joined the multi-hit club, as each went 2-for-4 on the evening and scored a run. Simmons registered both RBIs for Atlanta and redeemed himself with the game-winner after grounding into double plays in each of his previous two at-bats.
The Braves had baserunners all over the place in the early innings, but grounded into double plays (courtesy of Freddie Freeman, Garcia, and Simmons) to end three of the first four innings.
Toronto tied the game in the sixth via the home run ball. Smoak took a high pitch and lined it over the left field wall for an opposite-field homer. Teheran was pulled from the game later in the inning, and finished with a line of 5.2 innings, five hits, two runs, four walks, and seven strikeouts.
"I thought he was just OK," Gonzalez said of Teheran. "OK just because you want him going seven or eight innings. He would tell you (113 pitches in 5.2 innings) is not prototypical of him."
"I felt really good," Teheran said following the win. "I had to work deep into the count on a lot of them. They have a really good lineup so I had to make really good pitches."
Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle had a similar line to Teheran, scattering six hits in five innings of work, yielding two runs (one earned) with a walk and a pair of strikeouts.
The beleaguered Braves bullpen produced an impressive showing, as they produced 3.1 scoreless innings. Andrew McKirahan got pinch hitter Chris Colabello to line out to escape a sixth inning jam in relief of Teheran. Brandon Cunniff, Matt Marksberry, and Peter Moylan combined to get through the eighth. Arodys Vizcaino came on in the ninth, and was dominant, retiring the side on nine pitches.
"They did a great job today. You've got to give the credit to the bullpen," Teheran said.
Atlanta returns to the field tomorrow night looking to snap Shelby Miller's horrid 21-game winless streak. Game starts at 7:10 p.m. ET.