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Braves come through in 8th, sweep Pirates
Atlanta Braves’ Nate McLouth celebrates in the dugout after scoring the go-ahead run on a Chipper Jones single in the eighth inning Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Atlanta. The Braves went on to win 5-2. - photo by John Bazemore
ATLANTA — Brian McCann and the Atlanta Braves quickly shifted gears after another final at-bat win.

Bring on the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pinch-hitter Chipper Jones had a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning and the Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Jason Heyward added a two-run triple off Javier Lopez as the Braves won their fifth straight game to pull within a half-game of NL East-leading Philadelphia.

Next up for Atlanta? A three-game series against the Phillies beginning today at Turner Field.

"The National League champs are coming in here," McCann said. "We need to win games."

Jones' hit helped the Braves earn their ninth win in their last at-bat.

"It keeps on giving us confidence in those late innings that somebody's going to step up and do it," Jones said.

Nate McLouth started the decisive rally with a one-out walk. He swiped second before Joel Hanrahan (1-1) walked pinch-hitter Brian McCann. Martin Prado struck out but Jones followed with a bloop single into shallow left field, just out of the reach of shortstop Ronny Cedeno.

"It ended up being a good pitch," Hanrahan said. "What are you going to do? That's baseball. That's Chipper."

Heyward followed Jones' hit with a two-run triple, and Takashi Saito (1-2) pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out two batters, and Billy Wagner finished for his seventh save.

The Braves have won 10 of 12 and are 19-8 in May heading into the matchup with the Phillies.

"We still have 100-plus games to go," Jones said. "We're playing well. They're struggling a little bit. Let's just go out and play them. Have fun. Do the same things we've been doing for the last month. It's not do or die."

Paul Maholm pitched six innings for Pittsburgh, allowing just two runs despite giving up 10 hits. Hanrahan was charged with three runs and one hit with two walks in 1 2-3 innings.

The Pirates have lost five straight and nine of 11.

Troy Glaus drove in Atlanta's first two runs with a first-inning sacrifice fly and a third-inning homer off Maholm. Glaus leads the NL with 25 RBIs in May.

Kenshin Kawakami gave up two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings for the Braves, failing again to pick up his first win. He has three losses and three no-decisions in six starts this month despite giving up three or fewer earned runs in five of the starts.

"He knows he pitched good," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "That's the most important thing, And the team won. That's all he cares about."

Kawakami was in line for the decision before giving up Jeff Clement's two-run homer in the seventh, a tying drive set up by a contested strikeout. Plate umpire Brian O'Nora asked third base umpire Chris Guccione for help after Garrett Jones swung and tipped strike three. Catcher David Ross caught it, but TV replays supported Guccione's ruling that the ball hit the dirt before landing in Ross's glove.

Cox argued the decision before Jones walked and scored on Clement's drive to right field.

"If we'd lost, that home run really would have stuck with me," Kawakami said.

The Braves loaded the bases with no outs in the second before Maholm struck out McLouth and Kawakami and got Prado to fly out. They loaded the bases again after the third-inning homer by Glaus, but McLouth's fly ball to right ended the inning.

Atlanta's Yunel Escobar had three hits, lifting his batting average from .188 to .203.

NOTES: Heyward now has three triples. ... McCann missed his fourth straight start with a strained right quadriceps before entering the game in the eighth. ... Omar Infante started for Jones at third base and Heyward was the No. 3 hitter for the third time this season.
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