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Monroe's bat, Snell's arm lead Bucs to rout of Braves

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Craig Monroe came out of the dugout for a curtain cull following his second home run of the game.

For the nine-year veteran, it was his official welcome to Pittsburgh.

"That was awesome," he said. "To be with a new team and to get that appreciation from the crowd. It was spectacular."

Monroe hit a pair of three-run homers and Ian Snell allowed four hits in seven-plus innings, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 10-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

Monroe, making his second start of the season, homered off Atlanta starter Jo-Jo Reyes (0-1) with two outs in the sixth inning. He again went deep off reliever Buddy Carlyle with two outs in the seventh.

It was the fourth multihomer game of the right-fielder's career and the third time he had six RBI.

"Obviously, it was a great day for him," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said. "He's capable of that. He can drive the ball for us."

The 32-year-old sign with the Pirates in January after hitting .202 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in 163 at-bats for Minnesota last season. He earned a spot on the Pirates' bench after leading the team with eight home runs and 16 RBI in spring training.

Monroe had been 1-for-8 this season before Saturday's performance.

"That was fun," he said. "To be able to come off the spring training I had and continue to be able to help the team. It feels good. I look forward to staying productive."

Snell (1-2) walked three, struck out three and benefited from three double plays. The right-hander was replaced by Sean Burnett after walking Martin Prado to lead off the eighth.

Jesse Chavez worked a perfect ninth to complete the four-hitter.

Pittsburgh, which blanked Atlanta for the second consecutive game, has three shutouts in its past five games.

The Pirates, under first-year pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, entered Saturday's game with a major league-best 2.90 ERA. Though its still early, it's a dramatic improvement from 2008, when the Pittsburgh pitching staff was the worst in the National League with more than five earned runs allowed per game.

"I knew we would be better," Russell said. "Last year, we were not good at all. With Joe, there's now a sense of urgency to go out there and compete."

Snell said the team's starting staff has been feeding off each other's early success.

"It's fun right now," he said. "All of us are in a competition with each other. I'm sure the hitter's are doing the same thing."

Pittsburgh's offense had 13 hits against Reyes and two relief pitchers. Ryan Doumit and Andy LaRoche had three hits, and Nate McLouth and Freddy Sanchez added two hits each.

Reyes, called up before the game to start in place of Tom Glavine, allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

The left-hander has lost eight straight decisions dating back to last season. That's the longest losing streak by an Atlanta pitcher since Marty Clary dropped nine in a row in 1990.

Leading 1-0, the Pirates broke the game open by scoring four runs in the sixth against Reyes.

Sanchez tripled with one out and scored on McLouth's single to make it 2-0.

After McLouth stole second base, Doumit was intentionally walked and Adam LaRoche struck out. Monroe followed with his first homer of the season to make it 5-0.

Andy LaRoche doubled and Ramon Vazquez was intentionally walked before Reyes was lifted for Carlyle.

"I felt good out there today," Reyes said. "It's just that the screws came off in the sixth inning. I made one bad pitch all game, and it hurt. But I'm not dwelling on it because the first five innings are what I wanted to do."

The Pirates added four more runs in the seventh against Carlyle. Doumit had an RBI double and Adam LaRoche was intentionally walked before Monroe again homered.

Omar Infante had two hits for Atlanta, which has lost five straight.

The Braves put two runners on base in the fourth. Brian McCann walked and Casey Kotchman doubled with two outs. But Snell got Jeff Francoeur to line out to McLouth to end the inning.

Atlanta's offense struggles and have come without third baseman Chipper Jones and shortstop Yunel Escobar in the lineup. Jones was out for the fourth consecutive game with a bruised left thumb, and Escobar missed his second straight game with a strained abdominal muscle.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said both players could return for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

"We haven't had our whole team in the lineup yet," Cox said. "It would be great to get everybody back."

Notes

  • Pittsburgh's back-to-back shutouts were its first since blanking Arizona and Philadelphia on Aug. 6 and 8 last season.
  • Pirates SS Jack Wilson was out of the starting lineup for the third time in four games because of a bruised left middle finger.
  • The Pirates played their first Saturday afternoon game at PNC Park since Sept. 3, 2005.
  • Monroe's six RBI are the most by a Pirates player since Jose Castillo had six against Milwaukee on May 30, 2006.
  • Atlanta is 5-6 after starting the season 5-1. The Braves are 0-2 on a nine-game, 10-day road trip.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Pirates fans coax Craig Monroe out of the dugout for a curtain call after his seventh-inning homer. (AP)
Pirates fans coax Craig Monroe out of the dugout for a curtain call after his seventh-inning homer. (AP)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

C. Monroe
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 6
Pittsburgh

I. Snell
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 3
K 3
 

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Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson, 2B4000002 .244
Omar Infante, SS4020000 .348
Garret Anderson, LF4000002 .174
Brian McCann, C3000110 .200
Casey Kotchman, 1B3010000 .243
Jeff Francoeur, RF3000002 .326
Martin Prado, 3B2010100 .308
Jordan Schafer, CF3000021 .225
Jo-Jo Reyes, P1000110 .000
    Buddy Carlyle, P0000000 .000
   a- Greg Norton, PH1000001 .000
    James Parr, P0000000 .000
Totals2804034  
a-flied out for Carlyle in the 8th
Batting
2B - Casey Kotchman (3, Snell)
CS - Martin Prado (1, 2nd base by Snell/Doumit)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Prado-Johnson-Kotchman
Atlanta Braves
Jo-Jo Reyes (L,0-1) 5.2755341 7.94
Buddy Carlyle 1.1444111 9.53
James Parr 1211100 9.00
IBB - Doumit by Jo-Jo Reyes, by Vazquez, LaRoche by Buddy Carlyle
WP - Buddy Carlyle (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Jo-Jo Reyes 94-55, Buddy Carlyle 38-24, James Parr 22-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jo-Jo Reyes 11-1, Buddy Carlyle 1-2, James Parr 1-2
Batters Faced - Jo-Jo Reyes 26, Buddy Carlyle 9, James Parr 6
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, LF4000110 .333
Freddy Sanchez, 2B5121000 .333
Nate McLouth, CF5221002 .268
Ryan Doumit, C4331102 .262
Adam LaRoche, 1B3100225 .244
Craig Monroe, RF4226002 .250
Andy LaRoche, 3B4031000 .192
Ramon Vazquez, SS3000112 .143
Ian Snell, P3000012 .000
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .000
   a- Eric Hinske, PH1110000 .308
    Jesse Chavez, P0000000 .000
Totals3610131055  
a-doubled for Burnett in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Doumit 3 (4, Reyes, Reyes, Carlyle), Andy LaRoche 2 (2, Reyes, Reyes), Eric Hinske (3, Parr)
3B - Freddy Sanchez (2, Reyes)
HR - Craig Monroe 2 (2, Reyes, Carlyle)
RBI - Freddy Sanchez (4), Nate McLouth (9), Ryan Doumit (9), Craig Monroe 6 (6), Andy LaRoche (2)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Doumit (6), Craig Monroe 6 (6), Andy LaRoche (1)
SB - Nate McLouth (1, 2nd base off Reyes/McCann)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - LaRoche-LaRoche, Doumit-Vazquez, LaRoche-Vazquez
Pittsburgh Pirates
Ian Snell (W,1-2) 7400330 4.24
Sean Burnett 1000000 5.79
Jesse Chavez 1000010 1.80
Pitches-Strikes - Ian Snell 94-54, Sean Burnett 7-4, Jesse Chavez 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ian Snell 5-10, Sean Burnett 1-2
Batters Faced - Ian Snell 25, Sean Burnett 3, Jesse Chavez 3
Game Information
Attendance - 20755
Game Time - 2:22
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Bruce Dreckman, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Gary Darling, Third Base - Bill Hohn