Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
  • My Scores
  • MLB
  • Golf
  • NFL

Atlanta at Pittsburgh

Scoreboard
Atlanta (79-59)010000000181
Pittsburgh (46-91) «10000200x341

Braves' slump continues vs. MLB-worst Pirates

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

PITTSBURGH -- The Atlanta Braves lost a game they badly needed to win. Even worse, they lost to a Pittsburgh Pirates team whose only apparent goal appears to be avoiding the franchise's worst season in nearly 50 years.

Neil Walker hit a two-run homer, Brian Burres limited Atlanta to one run over six innings in his first start in more than three months and the Pirates beat the can't-get-hot Braves 3-1 on Monday.

Despite losing its fourth in five games, Atlanta was assured of remaining in first place in the NL East for at least another day when Florida beat Philadelphia 7-1 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. The Braves own a one-game lead over the Phillies.

Postseason Chase

The Braves have led the division every day since May 31, but have lost six games off that edge since July 22.

Lost their confidence, too? They say not so.

"I think a characteristic of our team is confidence," said Matt Diaz, who had two of Atlanta's eight hits. "We don't really have a strut on the field but we definitely have a swagger in the locker room, and we're not losing confidence at all. We know we go in the division and control our fate. That's the beauty of being the team that the other team's chasing -- whether it's one game or 10 games."

Atlanta had won five of its previous six against Pittsburgh and likely was looking to this three-game series as a way to get on track. But the Braves did almost nothing against Burres (3-3), who limited them to David Ross' sacrifice fly in the second during his first start since losing to Atlanta 6-3 on May 29.

Keeping the Braves off balance with an assortment of offspeed pitches mixed in with a fastball that topped out at 90 mph, Burres made his best start since shutting out the Cubs for seven innings on May 6. The left-hander spent much of the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, and started Monday only because Jeff Karstens has arm and shoulder fatigue.

"I felt like when I needed to, I could make a good pitch," said Burres, who might remain in the rotation. "I didn't always get ahead of the hitters, but I'd get out of it with a good pitch."

Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth inning for his fourth save in seven opportunities.

Tommy Hanson (9-11) held the Pirates to an unearned run over five innings before Jose Tabata singled to start the sixth, and Walker followed with a drive to straightaway center that made it 3-1. Walker's 10th homer extended his hitting streak to 13 games (22 for 57, .386).

"I saw Jose was running on the pitch and I felt like it was one of the best pitches I'd seen all day," Walker said. "He was hitting his spots pretty good and left a pitch out over the plate, and I felt like I could do something with it."

Walker, a late May call-up, has been one of the few pleasant surprises during a mostly miserable season in which the Pirates are on pace to lose 108 games -- the most since they dropped 112 in 1952. Walker is hitting .313 as a rookie, shows good power and is an above-average fielder despite playing second base for only a handful of games in the minors.

Before giving up the homer, Hanson was convinced he was en route to making one of his best starts all season.

"It's probably the best I've felt warming up," said Hanson, who allowed four hits over six innings. "It was just that one inning. Other than the fastball [to Walker], I don't think it could have gotten much better. Just that one pitch, and it was definitely a big pitch."

After Burres left, the Braves had their chances against relievers Chris Resop and Evan Meek, but couldn't score while stranding 11 runners overall.

Resop, claimed on waivers from Atlanta on Aug. 5, walked two to load the bases following Nate McLouth's single, but got Martin Prado to ground out to end the threat. Prado, batting .313, was hitless in five at-bats and is 1 for 17 in PNC Park this season.

The Braves put two on with one out in the eighth. Meek, pitching for the first time since being bruised on the right hand by Ryan Braun's line drive Aug. 29 in Milwaukee, then retired pinch-hitter Brian McCann and McLouth on grounders.

"We had hits and we had runners, we just couldn't get the big hit to get back into the game," manager Bobby Cox said. "We thought we were going to get it just about every inning, but it never happened."

Notes

  • The Braves expect to recall RH relievers Christhian Martinez and Craig Kimbrel from Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday.
  • Hanson, coming off a 4-1 victory over the Mets on Wednesday, hasn't won consecutive starts since May 30-June 5. He has dropped six of seven decisions.
  • McLouth, a former NL All-Star with Pittsburgh, started for a second successive day because Cox felt he might be comfortable in PNC Park. McLouth is batting .169.
 
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.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Neil Walker gives the Pirates all the offense they need against the Braves with a two-run home run in the sixth inning.  (Getty Images)
Neil Walker gives the Pirates all the offense they need against the Braves with a two-run home run in the sixth inning. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

N. Walker
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Pittsburgh

B. Burres
IP 6.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 0
K 3
 
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Omar Infante, 2B4000100 .339
Jason Heyward, RF4020120 .283
Martin Prado, 3B5000005 .313
Derrek Lee, 1B3120101 .251
Matt Diaz, LF4020001 .240
Alex Gonzalez, SS3010002 .262
David Ross, C2001020 .281
   a- Brian McCann, PH-C1000000 .281
Nate McLouth, CF4010004 .169
Tommy Hanson, P2000002 .115
   b- Freddie Freeman, PH1000001 .125
    Kyle Farnsworth, P0000000 .000
    Peter Moylan, P0000000 .000
   c- Eric Hinske, PH1000000 .251
Totals3418134  
a-grounded out for Ross in the 8th
b-flied out for Hanson in the 7th
c-grounded out for Moylan in the 9th
Batting
SF - David Ross (1)
RBI - David Ross (27)
SB - Nate McLouth (5, 2nd base off Resop/Doumit)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
E - David Ross (4, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Tommy Hanson (L,9-11) 6432241 3.58
Kyle Farnsworth 1000010 3.18
Peter Moylan 1000000 3.17
Pitches-Strikes - Tommy Hanson 92-59, Kyle Farnsworth 10-7, Peter Moylan 7-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tommy Hanson 5-9, Kyle Farnsworth 1-1, Peter Moylan 3-0
Batters Faced - Tommy Hanson 24, Kyle Farnsworth 3, Peter Moylan 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Andrew McCutchen, CF3100100 .274
Jose Tabata, LF4111010 .310
Neil Walker, 2B4112010 .312
Garrett Jones, 1B3000010 .244
Pedro Alvarez, 3B3010000 .233
Ryan Doumit, C2010100 .257
Delwyn Young, RF3000013 .240
Ronny Cedeno, SS3000001 .249
Brian Burres, P2000010 .176
    Chris Resop, P0000000 .000
   a- John Bowker, PH1000000 .193
    Evan Meek, P00000001.000
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
Totals2834325  
a-flied out for Resop in the 7th
Batting
2B - Pedro Alvarez (13, Hanson)
HR - Neil Walker (10, Hanson)
RBI - Jose Tabata (24), Neil Walker 2 (51)
SB - Andrew McCutchen (29, 3rd base off Hanson/Ross)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
E - Ronny Cedeno (10, Dropped fly)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Brian Burres (W,3-3) 6511030 5.75
Chris Resop (H,4) 1100210 4.50
Evan Meek (H,13) 1100100 2.08
Joel Hanrahan (S,4) 1100000 3.62
HBP - A. Gonzalez (by Brian Burres)
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Burres 104-62, Chris Resop 30-16, Evan Meek 23-13, Joel Hanrahan 17-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Burres 7-8, Chris Resop 1-1, Evan Meek 3-0, Joel Hanrahan 2-1
Batters Faced - Brian Burres 24, Chris Resop 6, Evan Meek 5, Joel Hanrahan 4
Game Information
Attendance - 15330
Game Time - 2:42
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Mike Estabrook, Third Base - Jim Joyce