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Mackowiak delivers blow as Pirates take series from Braves

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Chipper Jones is hurting again, the Atlanta Braves aren't scoring and their pitching staff is down another starter. No wonder they were ready to get out of Pittsburgh, normally one of the most hospitable of venues for them.

Rob Mackowiak hit a go-ahead two-run homer, Matt Lawton added a solo shot and the Pirates beat the skidding Braves 5-2 Sunday behind seven strong innings by Oliver Perez.

Perez allowed four hits to win his third consecutive decision since missing a start with shoulder soreness. He struck out seven and walked three to help the Pirates win their fifth time in seven games.

Mackowiak, who had three hits, followed Daryle Ward's leadoff double in the sixth with his sixth homer, a drive into the right-field seats off reliever Adam Benero (3-1) on a 1-2 pitch. The Pirates added a run in the seventh on reliever Jorge Sosa's two-base throwing error on Freddy Sanchez's sacrifice -- Atlanta's first error in 12 games -- and Jason Bay's sacrifice fly.

The Braves have dropped seven of 10 to fall a half-game behind Washington in a jam-packed NL East, where only 1½ games separate first place from fifth place.

"In this division, you can be in first place one day and in last the next," manager Bobby Cox said.

The Braves head back home to play the Angels in an interleague game Monday, but Jones will miss at least that game after reinjuring his left foot grounding out in the eighth. He missed seven games the last time he hurt the foot in April, but said the pain felt worse this time.

"Nobody seems to know what's wrong with it," Jones said. "I was initially diagnosed with a bone bruise, but it's safe to say five weeks later it's not a bruise. Maybe we'll take a closer look at it and see what's wrong."

Right now, there's nothing wrong with the Pirates, who don't look like the team that started 4-11. They're 5-2 so far against the Marlins and Braves on a 13-game homestand that continues with the Orioles and Devil Rays.

"I felt we could compete with the big-time teams because of our starting pitching," manager Lloyd McClendon said.

The Pirates showed the Braves the kind of pitching Atlanta is accustomed to getting, but isn't seeing as much lately with starters John Thomson and Mike Hampton injured. Hampton returned to the disabled list Sunday for the second time in a month with tightness in his throwing arm.

Perez (4-4) gave the Pirates their third consecutive effective start against the Braves, who had beaten the Pirates 19 times in 27 games since 2001 before dropping two of three over the weekend. Kip Wells pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 3-1 victory Friday and Mark Redman threw eight shutout innings Saturday before the Braves won 1-0 in the ninth.

Perez gave up Ryan Langerhans' two-run homer in the fifth -- the 10th time in 11 starts the left-hander has given up at least one homer - but otherwise allowed only one runner as far as second. The Braves scored only four runs in the series.

"He's almost back to being the old Oliver of last year," catcher Humberto Cota said of Perez, who was 1-4 with an ERA approaching 8.00 before winning three straight.

Rick White followed Perez with a scoreless eighth and Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 18 opportunities, striking out Adam LaRoche to end the game with two runners on.

Braves spot starter Seth Greisinger, who made nine starts for Minnesota last season, gave up Jose Castillo's run-scoring single in the first and Lawton's solo homer, his sixth, in the fifth. Lawton went 3-for-4 and reached base eight successive times before striking out in the eighth.

"That (Lawton) homer was a real spark," Mackowiak said. "We didn't play all that great earlier this season, but we're playing pretty good right now ... and we needed to come through and win this game."

The Pirates twice had runners thrown out at the plate to end potential big innings, Ward in the first and Freddy Sanchez in the seventh, both on singles by Mackowiak.

"Maybe I've got to get some faster runners ahead of me," Mackowiak said.

Notes

  • Jones went 0-for-3 and is in a 1-for-27 slump.
  • The Pirates are 7-2-1 in their last 10 series after going 1-5-3 in their first nine.
  • Pittsburgh is 5-2 against the NL East.
  • Perez has given up 16 homers in 60 1/3 innings after allowing 22 in 196 innings last season.
  • Greisinger's start was his second against Pittsburgh. He limited them to one run in eight innings in a 9-1 victory for Detroit on July 1, 1998, one of only 10 victories he has in the majors. He missed most of three seasons with an elbow injury.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

M. Lawton
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
Pittsburgh

R. Mackowiak
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS3000100 .221
Marcus Giles, 2B3000112 .279
Chipper Jones, 3B3000111 .282
    Pete Orr, 3B0000000 .290
Julio Franco, 1B4000031 .220
Andruw Jones, CF4000011 .249
Brian Jordan, RF4020011 .236
Johnny Estrada, C4110012 .275
Ryan Langerhans, LF3122110 .234
Seth Greisinger, P2000011 .000
    Adam Bernero, P00000001.000
   a- Wilson Betemit, PH1000000 .333
    Jorge Sosa, P0000000 .000
    Roman Colon, P0000000 .000
   b- Adam LaRoche, PH1000012 .242
Totals3225241111 
a-lined out for Bernero in the 7th
b-struck out for Colon in the 9th
Batting
2B - Ryan Langerhans (5, Perez)
HR - Ryan Langerhans (6, Perez)
RBI - Ryan Langerhans 2 (18)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Andruw Jones 1, Brian Jordan 1
DP - Furcal-Giles
E - Jorge Sosa (1, throwing error)
Atlanta Braves
Seth Greisinger 5722121 3.60
Adam Bernero (L,3-1) 1222101 4.35
Jorge Sosa 1110210 2.74
Roman Colon 1100010 8.10
IBB - Ward by Jorge Sosa
Pitches-Strikes - Seth Greisinger 69-47, Adam Bernero 18-10, Jorge Sosa 24-10, Roman Colon 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Seth Greisinger 6-5, Adam Bernero 2-1, Jorge Sosa 1-1, Roman Colon 2-0
Batters Faced - Seth Greisinger 21, Adam Bernero 6, Jorge Sosa 6, Roman Colon 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
Matt Lawton, RF4231111 .267
Freddy Sanchez, 3B3100002 .280
Jason Bay, LF2001101 .289
Daryle Ward, 1B3120102 .278
Jose Castillo, 2B4011015 .314
Rob Mackowiak, CF4132004 .331
Humberto Cota, C3010110 .247
Jack Wilson, SS3010001 .233
Oliver Perez, P3000012 .150
    Rick White, P0000000 .000
   a- Ryan Doumit, PH1000001 .000
    Jose Mesa, P0000000 .000
Totals3051154419 
a-grounded out for White in the 8th
Batting
2B - Matt Lawton (14, Greisinger), Daryle Ward (10, Bernero), Jack Wilson (9, Greisinger)
HR - Matt Lawton (6, Greisinger), Rob Mackowiak (6, Bernero)
SF - Jason Bay (2)
SH - Freddy Sanchez (1), Jack Wilson (7)
RBI - Matt Lawton (25), Jason Bay (27), Jose Castillo (14), Rob Mackowiak 2 (28)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Castillo (7)
Team LOB - 8
Pittsburgh Pirates
Oliver Perez (W,4-4) 7422371 6.41
Rick White (H,5) 1000020 2.81
Jose Mesa (S,16) 1100120 4.22
WP - Oliver Perez (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Oliver Perez 116-70, Rick White 11-8, Jose Mesa 27-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Oliver Perez 9-5, Rick White 1-0
Batters Faced - Oliver Perez 28, Rick White 3, Jose Mesa 5
Game Information
Attendance - 28717
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 86
Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Mike Everitt, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Tim McClelland