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Willie's hit wins it

Braves take series

   ATLANTA — Chipper Jones kept up his torrid hitting with a two-run double, the Atlanta bullpen shut down Philadelphia over the final four innings and the Braves edged the Phillies 4-3 Wednesday night.
    After slumping through April, Ryan Howard showed signs of breaking out with a three-run homer in the sixth. But that was it for the Phillies’ offense.
    The Braves reclaimed the lead on Willie Harris’ run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth, and the bullpen made it stand up.
    Chad Paronto (1-0), Tyler Yates, Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano each pitched a scoreless inning. Soriano, filling in for injured closer Bob Wickman, earned his second save.
    For the second night in a row, the Braves jumped to a 3-0 lead. Again, Jones was right in the middle of things.
    Kelly Johnson led off the third with a double and Edgar Renteria surprised the Phillies by dropping down a bunt single, just beating the throw to first. Jones, the NL’s home run leader with 10, brought both runners home with a double to left-center.
    Jones, plagued by injuries the last three seasons, is hitting .353 (18-for-51) with six homers during a 12-game hitting streak. He’s had at least one hit in 24 of 27 games this season.
    The Braves jumped ahead in the first against Freddy Garcia (1-2). Renteria doubled with one out and went to third on a wild pitch. Chipper Jones walked and Andruw Jones hustled down the line to beat the relay throw on a potential inning-ending double play.
    Braves starter Chuck James scattered five hits over the first five innings but failed to get an out in the sixth. Aaron Rowand singled, Chase Utley doubled and Howard went even deeper, hitting a towering drive over the center-field wall for just his fourth homer of the season.
    James appeared to be getting treatment between innings — perhaps for a blister — and manager Bobby Cox quickly yanked his starter after Howard’s homer.
    The Braves played without their top two catchers, both injured the previous night when struck by swinging bats. Brian McCann was hit on the left hand and Brayan Pena was popped in the head, sending him onto the disabled list with a concussion.
    Atlanta called up top prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Double-A and put him right in the lineup for his major league debut. As soon as the game became official, ‘‘Salty’’ claimed the distinction of having the longest last name in baseball history — 14 letters, for those counting.
    Saltalamacchia, whose debut came on his 22nd birthday, had an eventful game. He drove one to the center-field wall in his first at-bat, but it was hauled in by Rowand. The rookie threw out a runner attempting to steal, got plunked on the upper right arm by a pitch and was thrown out at the plate to end the sixth.
    The Braves squandered a chance to extend their lead that inning. They still had the bases loaded with none out after Harris’ run-scoring hit off Geoff Geary. But pinch-hitter Chris Woodward grounded into a force at the plate and Saltalamacchia was erased after attempting to tag up on Johnson’s fairly deep fly to right.
    Shane Victorino, who had just come into the game on a double switch, made a perfect throw to the plate and Rod Barajas tagged out his fellow catcher.

Braves call up Saltalamacchia
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia got quite a birthday present Wednesday: his first big league game.
    The Atlanta Braves called up Saltalamacchia, one of their top prospects, and put him right in the starting lineup against Philadelphia after catchers Brian McCann and Brayan Pena were injured the previous night.
    ‘‘I’m overwhelmed with it right now,’’ the 22-year-old rookie said. ‘‘This is my best birthday so far.’’
    McCann was hurt when he set up a little too close to the plate and got hit on the left hand during a swing. He tried to stay in the game, but let in a run with a passed ball and conceded that he couldn’t squeeze his mitt like he needed to because his ring finger was too sore.
    McCann hurt the same finger while attempting to bunt at New York less than two weeks ago.
    ‘‘It hurts worse this time than it did when I got hit with the foul ball,’’ he said. ‘‘The only thing that stinks is the fact that I got hit on the same finger. It was practically healed. I have to go back to square one again. It’s right in the tip of my finger. It’s hard to make a fist.’’
    The Braves are off Thursday and McCann hopes he will be well enough to play Friday, the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
    Pena went on the 15-day disabled list with concussion symptoms. He took a bat to the back of the head on Greg Dobbs’ follow-through in the ninth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Phillies, which left Atlanta’s backup catcher sprawled on the ground.
    ‘‘I kind of couldn’t hear,’’ Pena said. ‘‘There was ringing in my right ear.’’
    Saltalamacchia was called up from Double-A Mississippi. He got the word late Monday and barely slept before catching a short flight from nearby Montgomery, Ala., where the M-Braves were playing a Southern League series.
    ‘‘I was just planning to eat lunch by myself, go to the field and hopefully have a good game,’’ said Saltalamacchia, musing about his birthday plans. ‘‘I did the same thing, just in a different place.’’
    ‘‘Salty’’ was off to a good start at Mississippi, hitting .309 with six homers and 13 RBIs. While this appearance in Atlanta is likely to last only a couple of weeks, he’s expected to be a future fixture in the Braves lineup.
    ‘‘I’ve got to enjoy every minute of it,’’ he said. ‘‘This doesn’t happen to everybody.’’
    Saltalamacchia also was poised to claim a unique spot in baseball history as soon as his debut became an official game. According to the Braves, his 14-letter last name is longer than any other big league player.
    ‘‘I remember people saying that to me a few years ago, but I forgot all about it,’’ Saltalamacchia said. ‘‘That’s pretty neat.’’

Ailing Redman
    Maybe this is why Mark Redman is off to such a dismal start.
    The Braves placed their struggling fifth starter on the disabled list after he agreed to have surgery on his left foot to remove an ingrown toenail.
    Redman, signed by Atlanta during spring training after Mike Hampton was injured, is 0-4 with a 10.62 ERA in five starts. He seemed on the verge of losing his spot in rotation anyway, so it can’t hurt to see if the surgery will help.
    ‘‘He’s been pitching with it and didn’t want to get it cut while he was in the rotation,’’ manager Bobby Cox said. ‘‘I think it has (affected his pitching) He didn’t want to miss a turn. There was no good time to do that. He kept fighting it.’’
    The Braves called up Kevin Barry from Triple-A Richmond. He was 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in fur appearances, three of them starts.
    Cox hasn’t decided who will start the next time Redman’s spot comes up. Reliever Oscar Villareal, who filled in last year as a starter, is probably the leading candidate.
    To make room for Barry on their 40-man roster, the Braves shifted pitcher Tanyon Sturtze to the 60-day disabled list. Signed during the offseason, Sturtze is still recovering from shoulder surgery.

Huddy’s gift
    Tim Hudson had hoped to attend Thursday’s funeral for college teammate Josh Hancock, but a family commitment will keep him from traveling to Mississippi.
    Instead, Hudson plans to send Hancock’s family the jersey he wore in his last start, which had the letters ‘‘JH’’ on the left chest. Hudson put out the jersey in the clubhouse and asked all his teammates to sign it.
    Hancock, a St. Louis Cardinals reliever, was killed in a weekend car crash. He and Hudson were teammates at Auburn, helping lead the Tigers to the 1997 College World Series.
    Hudson (3-0) pitched eight strong innings on Monday, just a day after learning that both Hancock and his ailing grandmother had died.

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