Atlanta at Pittsburgh

W: A. Varvaro (1-0) L: J. Hughes (1-1) S: C. Kimbrel (7)
HR: ATL - B. Upton (2),C. Johnson (2),J. Upton (9),E. Gattis (5)   PIT - R. Martin (1),P. Alvarez (1)

Gattis puts Braves over top with pinch-hit homer wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- The conversation between Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage and reliever Jared Hughes was brief and to the point.

The go-ahead run on second base and Atlanta Braves rookie catcher Evan Gattis pinch-hitting with one out in the eighth inning on Thursday, Searage told Hughes to go do his thing.

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Instead, Gattis did his thing, taking a 92 mph sinker from Hughes and sending it into the left-field bleachers to lift the Braves to a 6-4 victory.

"I just fell behind him," Hughes said. "The ball didn't sink and he did a good job of getting his hands inside of it and hitting it hard."

Hughes has struggled this season after being a pleasant surprise in 2012. He fell to 1-1 while his ERA ballooned to 5.63.

"Jared's got to try and find his way back to what we've seen in the past," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "So far this season he's been behind in too many counts, first pitch strikes aren't where they need to be and I'm sure he'd like to have that pitch back."

Gattis will certainly take it. So will baseball's hottest team.

The catcher, a highly coveted high school prospect who left the game in his late-teens and early 20s, now has five homers this season for Atlanta, which is now a major-league best 13-2.

"I'd only ever pinch hit one time before and that was in rookie ball and I think I grounded out to short," Gattis said. "It was a good matchup between me and what (Hughes) throws. I had a chance to see a couple of pitches, which helped, then I got a ball on the barrel of the bat."

Atlanta brothers B.J. Upton and Justin Upton homered in the same game for the second time this season as the Braves continued their torrid play.

Anthony Varvaro (1-0) won in relief of starter Julio Teheran. Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save.

Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez each hit their first homer of the year, but the Pirates couldn't climb above .500. Travis Snider added two doubles and Garrett Jones drove in two runs.

"You're a bit deflated at the end, because I thought we played a pretty good game, back and forth," Alvarez said. "But they're a good team and when you battle like that for the whole game and it goes like that, it's tough."

Atlanta pitchers came in with a 1.77 ERA -- easily the best in baseball -- but Teheran continued to be the one member of the starting staff still searching for solid footing. The 22-year-old struggled with his command in five innings, giving up four runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking three.

Teheran had been lights out against right-handed batters but surrendered Martin's first homer with the Pirates leading off the second. Alvarez -- in the midst of a 4 for 45 (.089) slump to begin the season -- drilled a 91 mph slider to the batter's eye leading off the fourth.

While Teheran is a permanent part of Atlanta's future, Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke's job security is more tenuous. He won a starting spot almost by default after injuries to Jeff Karstens and Francisco Liriano gave the Pirates a major hole at the back end of the rotation.

Locke's first two starts were adequate and Hurdle said before the game there is a "window" for Locke to convince the Pirates to keep him around even after Liriano and Karstens return. The 25-year-old Locke struggled keeping the Uptons -- and their teammates -- in check, giving up four runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

"They hit the ball over the fence," Locke said. "The biggest thing for me with this team is when you get ahead of them ... they tend to get themselves out sometimes. When you're always 1-0 to people, it's easier to hit."

Both starters left the game with a 4-all tie before the Braves broke through against Hughes.

Andrelton Simmons led off the eighth with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before Gattis entered as a pinch-hitter. Searage came out to chat with Hughes, but three pitches later Gattis put the Braves in front to stay.

"We didn't pitch well enough tonight at the end of the day," Hurdle said. "We just didn't pitch well enough."


  • Liriano will make a start for Double-A Altoona on Saturday. The left-hander is expected to throw four innings or 65 pitches. Liriano is recovering from a broken right arm and could be called up to Pittsburgh within the next two weeks.
  • Atlanta will monitor the health of left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, who left Tuesday night's game against Kansas City with a severe cramp in his left hamstring. Avilan will be placed on the disabled list if the leg doesn't improve by Sunday.
  • The series continues Friday when Tim Hudson (2-0, 2.50 ERA) faces Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez (1-0, 1.00).
Copyright 2017 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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Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons high-fives Evan Gattis after the catcher's go-ahead, pinch-hit homer in the eighth. (AP)
Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons high-fives Evan Gattis after the catcher's go-ahead, pinch-hit homer in the eighth. (AP)

Players of the Game

C. Johnson
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1

R. Martin
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1

Related Video

Atlanta Braves
B.J. Upton, CF4121112 .167
Jason Heyward, RF5000023 .115
Justin Upton, LF4211110 .328
Chris Johnson, 1B4132110 .438
Dan Uggla, 2B3010201 .173
Juan Francisco, 3B5010024 .318
    Craig Kimbrel, P0000000 .000
Andrelton Simmons, SS3100203 .188
Gerald Laird, C1000100 .308
Julio Teheran, P2010001 .400
   a- Reed Johnson, PH1000001 .091
    Anthony Varvaro, P0000000 .000
   b- Evan Gattis, PH1112000 .279
    Eric O'Flaherty, P0000000 .000
    Ramiro Pena, 3B0000000 .364
a-flied out for Teheran in the 6th
b-homered for Varvaro in the 8th
2B - B.J. Upton (3, Hughes)
HR - B.J. Upton (2, Locke), Justin Upton (9, Locke), Chris Johnson (2, Locke), Evan Gattis (5, Hughes)
SH - Gerald Laird 2 (2)
RBI - B.J. Upton (3), Justin Upton (13), Chris Johnson 2 (7), Evan Gattis 2 (12)
2-OUT RBI - Chris Johnson 2 (7)
CS - Andrelton Simmons (1, 2nd base by Locke/Martin)
Team LOB - 10
DP - Simmons-Uggla-Johnson
Atlanta Braves
Julio Teheran 5744342 7.31
Anthony Varvaro (W,1-0) 2000020 0.00
Eric O'Flaherty (H,5) 1000000 2.08
Craig Kimbrel (S,7) 1000030 0.00
IBB - Alvarez by Julio Teheran
HBP - G. Jones (by Julio Teheran), Martin (by Julio Teheran)
WP - Julio Teheran (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Julio Teheran 87-48, Anthony Varvaro 21-15, Eric O'Flaherty 13-7, Craig Kimbrel 16-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Julio Teheran 6-4, Anthony Varvaro 2-2, Eric O'Flaherty 1-2
Batters Faced - Julio Teheran 26, Anthony Varvaro 6, Eric O'Flaherty 3, Craig Kimbrel 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
Starling Marte, LF5000051 .333
Travis Snider, RF4220110 .314
Andrew McCutchen, CF4010002 .273
Garrett Jones, 1B2012000 .333
Neil Walker, 2B3000112 .241
Pedro Alvarez, 3B3111102 .104
Russell Martin, C3121000 .143
Clint Barmes, SS4000004 .100
Jeff Locke, P1000000 .000
    Justin Wilson, P0000000 .000
   a- Alex Presley, PH1000010 .500
    Jared Hughes, P0000000 .000
    Tony Watson, P0000000 .000
    Vin Mazzaro, P0000000 .000
   b- Jose Tabata, PH1000010 .211
a-struck out for Wilson in the 6th
b-struck out for Mazzaro in the 9th
2B - Travis Snider 2 (5, Teheran, Teheran), Andrew McCutchen (6, Teheran), Garrett Jones (3, Teheran)
HR - Pedro Alvarez (1, Teheran), Russell Martin (1, Teheran)
SF - Garrett Jones (1)
SH - Jeff Locke (1)
RBI - Garrett Jones 2 (7), Pedro Alvarez (3), Russell Martin (2)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Barmes
PB - Russell Martin (1)
E - Pedro Alvarez (3, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Jeff Locke 4.2644433 5.17
Justin Wilson 1.1000210 1.69
Jared Hughes (L,1-1) 1.1222221 5.63
Tony Watson 0.2000000 3.86
Vin Mazzaro 1200010 0.00
IBB - Upton by Justin Wilson
WP - Justin Wilson (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Locke 95-51, Justin Wilson 30-17, Jared Hughes 30-15, Tony Watson 2-1, Vin Mazzaro 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Locke 6-4, Justin Wilson 2-1, Jared Hughes 1-1, Vin Mazzaro 1-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Locke 23, Justin Wilson 6, Jared Hughes 8, Tony Watson 1, Vin Mazzaro 5
Game Information
Attendance - 11288
Game Time - 3:15
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Andy Fletcher, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Chris Conroy, Third Base - Paul Nauert