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Newcomer Sammons' HR helps Braves spoil Cardinals' bid for sweep

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- The hometown guy helped the Atlanta Braves snap a five-game losing streak.

No, it wasn't Brian McCann or Jeff Francoeur.

Rookie catcher Clint Sammons had a go-ahead home run and three RBI to lead Atlanta past the St. Louis Cardinals 9-4 on Thursday night, a much-needed boost for a team that was having a terrible week.

Sammons, called up from the minors on Monday, picked up the first RBI of his fledgling big league career in the fourth when he singled in a run that tied the game at 3.

Two innings later, he put the Braves ahead to stay with his first home run, a two-run shot over the wall in left.

"That's something I'll remember forever," said Sammons, who added another hit in the eighth and scored the Braves' final run. "To hit a homer that gives us a lead, which we've not had a lot of lately, is certainly a great memory. That's probably the best ball I've hit all year."

Born and raised in suburban Atlanta, Sammons was a high school teammate of Francoeur's and went on to play at the University of Georgia. He was called up from Triple-A Richmond after McCann, yet another product of the Atlanta area, was sidelined with a concussion.

Known more for his defense, Sammons smiled when someone asked if he has become a home-run threat.

"I may hit a few, but it's not going to happen too often," he said.

The Braves were eager for some levity after losing ace Tim Hudson to possible season-ending surgery, placing Chipper Jones on the disabled list and trading slugger Mark Teixeira, conceding they no longer have any hopes of contending this season.

"This is something the team really needed after the last five or six games," Sammons said. "Hopefully it will give us a boost going into August and September."

Atlanta's Omar Infante had three hits and two RBI, including a home run leading off the second.

St. Louis failed to complete a four-game sweep of the Braves and fell five games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, tied for second with Milwaukee.

"It's good winning three out of four," Cardinals shortstop Cesar Izturis said.

Mike Hampton got off to a shaky start in the second appearance of his comeback, giving up two-run double to Albert Pujols in the first.

The left-hander settled down and was actually in position for his first victory since 2005 when his second RBI of the game gave the Braves a 4-3 lead. But Hampton couldn't get through his final inning; he surrendered a two-out, run-scoring single to Ryan Ludwick that knocked the Atlanta starter out of a decision.

Hampton, who missed the past two seasons and much of this one recovering from various injuries, gave up seven hits and four runs in five innings. He walked four and didn't strike out anyone.

"The competitor in me wants to be perfect right away," Hampton said. "But I know it's going to take a little time. I was a little more confident this time."

Jeff Bennett (2-4) picked up the victory with two scoreless innings.

Hampton, one of baseball's best-hitting pitchers when he actually makes it to the field, provided a boost to an Atlanta lineup that's severely short-handed without Teixeira, Jones and McCann, who missed his fourth consecutive game while recovering from a collision at home plate last weekend.

"It's nice to have him in the lineup," said Sammons, who batted just ahead of the pitcher.

The Braves roughed up St. Louis starter Joel Pineiro (3-5) for 10 hits and six runs in six innings, then put it out of reach with two runs in the seventh off Kevin Jimenez. Mark Kotsay doubled in a run and Infante closed his big night with another RBI double into the left-field corner.

After going 2-2 in April, Pineiro has one victory in the past three months.

"I'm not pitching the way I should be pitching," he said. "I let my team down and myself down."

Added manager Tony La Russa, "He makes good pitches and gets good hitters out, and then he makes mistakes."

St. Louis was out-hit 15-8 but came through in the clutch against Hampton. Pineiro drove in a run with a two-out double in the fourth, and Ludwick responded in the same situation.

Hampton had a two-out hit in the second, doubling to the wall in right-center to make it 2-2. He drove in another run in the fourth by hustling to beat out a potential double-play grounder.

Notes

  • Hampton's double was his first since April 17, 2005.
  • Casey Kotchman, acquired from the Angels in the deal for Teixeira, went 0-for-4 and is hitless in nine at-bats with Atlanta.
  • Pineiro dropped to 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in four career appearances against the Braves.
  • LHP Chuck James will come up Friday to start the opener of a three-game series against Milwaukee. The Braves have yet to announce whose spot he'll take.
 
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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Clint Simmons follows the flight of his first MLB home run, which puts the Braves ahead to stay.  (AP)
Clint Simmons follows the flight of his first MLB home run, which puts the Braves ahead to stay. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

C. Sammons
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
Atlanta

O. Infante
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 
St. Louis Cardinals
Cesar Izturis, 3B-SS5130000 .236
Joe Mather, CF4210101 .257
Albert Pujols, 1B4012001 .354
Ryan Ludwick, RF2011100 .295
Nick Stavinoha, LF3110111 .238
Aaron Miles, 2B-3B3000103 .315
Jason LaRue, C4000003 .229
Joel Pineiro, P3011000 .086
    Adam Kennedy, 2B1000010 .267
Brendan Ryan, SS3000001 .239
    Kelvin Jimenez, P0000000 .000
   a- Yadier Molina, PH1000000 .308
Totals3348442  
a-flied out for Jimenez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Albert Pujols (26, Hampton), Joel Pineiro (2, Hampton)
RBI - Albert Pujols 2 (67), Ryan Ludwick (74), Joel Pineiro (3)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Ludwick (31), Joel Pineiro (3)
SB - Cesar Izturis (11, 2nd base off Hampton/Sammons)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Izturis-Kennedy-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Joel Pineiro (L,3-5) 61066022 5.04
Kelvin Jimenez 2533110 5.63
Pitches-Strikes - Joel Pineiro 110-72, Kelvin Jimenez 35-24
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joel Pineiro 12-4, Kelvin Jimenez 4-0
Batters Faced - Joel Pineiro 28, Kelvin Jimenez 11
Atlanta Braves
Gregor Blanco, LF5010012 .267
Yunel Escobar, SS5121002 .283
Mark Kotsay, CF5121001 .290
Casey Kotchman, 1B4000002 .280
Omar Infante, 3B4232000 .306
Kelly Johnson, 2B4220001 .270
Jeff Francoeur, RF4110024 .235
Clint Sammons, C4233001 .500
Mike Hampton, P2012000 .250
    Jeff Bennett, P1000000 .125
    Rafael Soriano, P0000000 .000
   a- Greg Norton, PH0000100 .253
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000 .000
Totals38915913  
a-walked for Soriano in the 8th
Batting
2B - Gregor Blanco (8, Pineiro), Mark Kotsay 2 (11, Pineiro, Jimenez), Omar Infante (10, Jimenez), Mike Hampton (1, Pineiro)
HR - Omar Infante (3, Pineiro), Clint Sammons (1, Pineiro)
RBI - Yunel Escobar (40), Mark Kotsay (29), Omar Infante 2 (18), Clint Sammons 3 (3), Mike Hampton 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Yunel Escobar (19), Mike Hampton (1)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Infante-Johnson-Kotchman, Infante-Kotchman
Atlanta Braves
Mike Hampton 5744400 10.00
Jeff Bennett (W,2-4) 2000000 4.13
Rafael Soriano 1000010 1.38
Mike Gonzalez 1100010 3.00
IBB - Miles by Mike Hampton
HBP - Ludwick (by Rafael Soriano)
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Hampton 81-43, Jeff Bennett 26-17, Rafael Soriano 18-10, Mike Gonzalez 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Hampton 9-4, Jeff Bennett 3-3
Batters Faced - Mike Hampton 24, Jeff Bennett 6, Rafael Soriano 4, Mike Gonzalez 4
Game Information
Attendance - 40653
Game Time - 2:44
Temperature - 79
Umpires - Home - Jeff Nelson, First Base - Adrian Johnson, Second Base - Tim Tschida, Third Base - Jim Joyce