By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Braves drop a one-run game to Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates’ Freddy Sanchez, center, is congratulated by Jason Bay, left, and Xavier Nady, right, after Sanchez hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Pirates a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday in Pittsburgh. - photo by The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Freddy Sanchez insists he doesn’t care where he hits in the Pittsburgh lineup.

The way the Pirates are rolling, he could be hitting leadoff for a while.

Sanchez singled home Brian Bixler with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Sanchez went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and is 9-for-17 in four games since he moved from No. 2 to the leadoff spot. The Pirates have won all four games.

"I don’t think it has anything to do with it," Sanchez said. "To me, it doesn’t matter where I hit. After my first at-bat, it’s not really a factor anymore. After first my at-bat, I tend to forget I’m hitting leadoff."

The loss drops the Braves to 1-10 in one run games and snaps their six-game winning streak.

With one out in the ninth, Jose Bautista singled off Atlanta reliever Jeff Bennett (0-2). Bixler hit into a forceout at second, and Doug Mientkiewicz singled to put runners at first and third.

Mientkiewicz took second on fielder’s indifference before Sanchez singled up the middle to give the Pirates the victory.

"That’s a case where I didn’t hit the ball hard," Sanchez said. "It just found a hole."

The second basemen’s batting average has improved from .222 to .261 over the past four games. Pirates manager John Russell said it was only a matter of time before Sanchez, who won the 2006 National League batting title, would break out of his slump.

"The change of scenery might have made him more energetic," Russell said. "But he might have done the same thing in the No. 2 hole. We all know Freddy can hit."

John Grabow (2-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the win. Grabow came in after Tyler Yates allowed the first two runners to reach base. After striking out Kelly Johnson, Grabow got Yunel Escobar to bounce into a double play.

"Obviously, you never want to come into a situation like that," said Grabow, who has a 1.02 ERA. "But that’s our job out in the bullpen to pick each other up."

Brian McCann went 3-for-3 and Jeff Francoeur drove in two runs for Atlanta, which had won six straight.

Sanchez hit a two-out, two-run double off Tom Glavine in the seventh to put Pittsburgh in front 2-1. Bixler was thrown out at home on the play.

Francoeur tied it with a two-out RBI single in the eighth.

Atlanta slugger Chipper Jones, the major league’s leading hitter with a .413 average, went 0-for-2 with two walks. Jones was held without a hit for the fourth time in 32 games this season.

Glavine allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out three. The left-hander is winless in six starts this season. In four of those starts, he’s pitched at least five innings and allowed two runs or fewer.

"He can’t pitch any better," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.

"How do you pitch any better?"

Glavine, who has 303 career victories, said the outcomes have been frustrating.

"There’s nothing else I can do," Glavine said. "I want to win and be a part of what’s going on around here. The flipside is, I’m happy with the way I’m throwing the ball. I’m giving us a chance to win, it’s just hasn’t happened for me. If I keep throwing the ball the way I’m throwing it, I’ll win my share of games."

Ian Snell went seven innings for the Pirates, allowing one run and two hits. He struck out five but also walked six batters.

"Ian missed away to the lefties, which costs him walks and increased his pitch count," Russell said. "But he made the pitches when he had to. He matched pitches when he needed to with Glavine, who was obviously on his game."

Snell, who hasn’t won since beating Cincinnati on April 12, was coming off one of his worst outings of the season, allowing four runs and 10 hits in six innings in a loss at Washington on Sunday.

"Tonight was an improvement. I’m just taking it step by step," he said. "It wasn’t my best start by far. I tried to let the defense play instead of trying to strike everybody out. I didn’t realize I had that many walks. It happens, and they obviously didn’t hurt me."

Snell, a career .060 hitter entering Friday night, also had a double in the sixth, his first hit of the season.Notes: Glavine moved past Bob Feller and Warren Spahn and into 24th place on the career strikeout list. Glavine now has 2,584 Ks. ... Pirates reliever Damaso Marte had retired 22 straight batters before allowing a single to Mark Teixeira in the eighth. ... The Pirates had their first blown save of the season.

Regional events