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Conrad comes up big

Conrad comes up big

Conrad comes up big

Atlanta Braves' Brooks Conrad, left, ...


PITTSBURGH — Brooks Conrad hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the 11th inning and the Atlanta Braves topped the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Wednesday.

With pinch-runner Wilkin Ramirez on first and one out, Conrad hit a 1-2 pitch from Jeff Karstens (3-3) into a sliver of seats in right-center for his first home run of the season and fifth career pinch-hit homer.

Eric Hinske hit a solo homer and Jordan Schafer and Alex Gonzalez each had two hits for the Braves, who have won three of four and got a strong outing from rookie Mike Minor in a spot start for Tim Hudson.

Steve Pearce homered for the first time in 20 months and went 3 for 5 with two RBIs for Pittsburgh, which has lost three straight.

Minor allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings, Jonny Venters got Pearce to ground into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning and George Sherrill (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th for the Braves.

Craig Kimbrel retired the Pirates in order in the 11th for his 14th save.

Hinske, whose .370 batting average in May ranked second in the National League entering the game, gave Atlanta the lead in the sixth with his homer deep to right, his fifth of the season.

Pearce's homer down the left-field line in the seventh prevented Minor from getting his first win of the season.

Minor, recalled Tuesday night to start in place of Hudson (stiff back), was making his second start of the season. Minor, the No. 7 overall draft pick in 2009, allowed seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

The final two batters he faced singled off him in the sixth, but Scott Proctor came on and got Ronny Cedeno to ground out to first to end the inning.

Each team was involved in its third consecutive pitcher's duel — the Pirates had lost the previous two by identical 2-0 scores, including Tuesday against the Braves.

On Wednesday, Pittsburgh's James McDonald gave up hits to the first three batters of the game — including Chipper Jones' RBI single that scored Schafer — but retired 11 of the next 12.

McDonald, who hadn't allowed a run in either of his previous two home starts, allowed two runs and six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Twenty of the 32 runs McDonald has allowed this season have come via the home run.

After watching his team having not scored a run since Saturday, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle shuffled his lineup, dropping Andrew McCutchen from leadoff to No. 3 in the order, bumping Jose Tabata to leadoff and inserting Pearce into the No. 2 spot.

Pearce made his fourth career start at third base, the Pirates patching the hole left with Pedro Alvarez on the disabled list. Pearce has reached safely in nine of his 10 starts this season.

Pearce drove in Pittsburgh's first run in 22 innings in the third with a single to left after Tabata had led off with a single and stole second.

Notes: Atlanta has four pinch-hit home runs this season. ... Normally Pittsburgh's fifth starter, Karstens was in the game because the Pirates pushed his next scheduled start back two days to Sunday. ... A day after 2B Dan Uggla was not in the Braves' lineup for the first time this season, teammate OF Martin Prado did not start for the first time. Similar to Uggla the day before, Prado entered the game in the eighth inning. Prado struck out in the 10th. ... The struggling Uggla had a rough game, going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, an error and being part of a miscommunication that was called an error on SS Alex Gonzalez in the ninth. ... Lyle Overbay and OF Matt Diaz each had two hits for Pittsburgh.

 

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