The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — Bill Hall began the night grumbling about his reduced role with the Milwaukee Brewers.
He ended it by celebrating at home plate.
Hall led off the ninth inning of a tie game with a bloop single, then slid across for the winning run in Milwaukee’s 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
Redemption? No, Hall said. Just the way he was supposed to be playing all along.
"It was a lot of emotions," Hall said. "I want to play, and I guess I’ll go out and do the things I used to do with the emotion I used to have."
Hall began the game on the bench, as Russell Branyan started at third base under a new platoon system being used by Brewers manager Ned Yost. The reason? Hall was hitting only .158 against right-handed pitchers coming into Tuesday’s game.
Hall — who noted to reporters before the game that he wasn’t the only player on the team struggling offensively, and wondered why he was being singled out — entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth. He then led off the bottom of the inning with a broken-bat bloop single off Braves reliever Jeff Bennett (0-3), a right-hander.
"Who knows? Maybe that’s what I needed," Hall said.
Rickie Weeks sacrificed Hall to second, and Hall stole third. Mike Cameron then lofted a fly ball to center, and Hall’s slide narrowly beat the throw home as his teammates rushed out of the dugout to celebrate.
"It was a nice spot for him to come in and get it going," Yost said.
And it was a happy homecoming for Milwaukee after dropping six games on a 10-game road trip that ended Monday. Coming into Tuesday, Milwaukee had played a major league-high 31 road games.
Salomon Torres (4-1) earned the victory for Milwaukee.
The loss was the latest in a long line of road woes this season for the Braves, who have a major league-worst 6-17 road record this season.
"It’s a tough one to swallow," Braves starter Tim Hudson said.
Even tougher to take was an injury to left fielder Matt Diaz, who limped away from first base after an unsuccessful bunt attempt in the seventh and left with a strained left knee and laceration below the knee that required stitches.
He was scheduled to return to Atlanta and have the injury evaluated.
"He’s going to be out a while," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I don’t know exactly the term."
Diaz appeared to sustain the injury in the previous inning, when he slid into a wall while trying to catch a foul ball by Prince Fielder. But he stayed in to take his turn at bat.
"It just shows you what kind of guy he is," Braves catcher Brian McCann said.
The Brewers barely managed to get the ball out of the infield through the first five innings against Hudson, and were held scoreless until J.J. Hardy’s RBI single in the seventh.
Milwaukee then tied it with a two-out rally in the eighth. After a single by Fielder and double by Corey Hart, the Braves then issued an intentional walk to Branyan to load the bases and bring up Hardy.
Hardy then hit a sharp grounder up the middle that glanced off Hudson’s foot and caromed high into the air, allowing Fielder to score.
Brewers starter Dave Bush gave up a solo home run in each of the first two innings, the first to Kelly Johnson and the second to rookie Gregor Blanco, both deep to right field. It was the first career homer for Blanco.
Bush settled down from there, holding the Braves scoreless until he was taken out for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. McCann thought the Braves would have scored more off Bush if they’d been more patient at the plate.
"He was effectively wild, I guess," McCann said.Notes: With the injury to Diaz, Cox said the Braves likely would activate right-hander Rafael Soriano, who has been on a rehabilitation assignment for right elbow tendinitis. ... Julian Tavarez, a Boston castoff who was signed and placed on the active roster by Milwaukee earlier Tuesday, relieved Bush in the eighth and pitched a perfect inning.