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Braves win first game of the year

POSTED: April 13, 2008 5:01 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Atlanta Braves' Matt Diaz watches his solo home run in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday in Atlanta.

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ATLANTA — Mark Teixeira and Yunel Escobar ended all doubts that rookie Jair Jurrjens’ debut in Atlanta would be a success.

Teixeira hit a two-run homer and Escobar added a three-run shot in Atlanta’s seven-run eighth inning and the Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-2 Wednesday night.

Teixeira, 1-for-13 before his homer, said he followed the advice of his hitting coach.

“Terry Pendleton was kidding me saying ‘Try to hit the ball at somebody and maybe they won’t catch it,”’ Teixeira said.

Teixeira’s aim was good — if he was targeting fans in the center field seats.

Jurrjens, acquired in the offseason deal that sent Edgar Renteria to Detroit, gave up seven hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings to help the Braves avoid an 0-3 start. Jurrjens struck out five with only one walk.

“He was great. That’s what we expect from him,” Teixeira said. “That’s a lot of pressure on a young kid, but he’s shown good things and he stepped up tonight and showed how good he can be. We like to see strikes from young guys.”

Jurrjens (1-0) gave up only four hits in five scoreless innings before tiring in the sixth. He was pulled after giving up three hits in the inning, including Xavier Nady’s two-run double.

Jurrjens said he began to overthrow in the sixth. Even so, manager Bobby Cox called the rookie “sensational ... very, very impressive.”

Pittsburgh first baseman Adam LaRoche said his former Atlanta teammates promised that Jurrjens was special.

“I remember talking to some of the guys out of camp,” LaRoche said. “They said, ‘Wait until you see this kid throw.’ I guess he was awesome in spring training. They said his changeup is just incredible.”

LaRoche was convinced. “That’s some of the best I’ve seen out of a young kid like that,” he said.
Jurrjens received an ovation when he left after giving up a single to Ryan Doumit, moving Nady to third. “That’s nice, especially coming over in a trade,” Jurrjens said. “Especially the first one at home, you try to impress the fans.”

With one out, runners on first and third and the Braves leading 3-2, Jeff Bennett relieved Jurrjens. Chipper Jones protected the lead when he started a double play on Jose Bautista’s broken-bat grounder to third. Jones maintained his focus as part of Bautista’s bat headed toward his feet.

“To me, that was the turning point of the game,” Cox said.



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