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Jurrjens shuts down Pittsburgh
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PITTSBURGH - Jair Jurrjens pitched six-hit ball into the eighth inning to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Jurrjens (6-1) struck out four and walked one in 7 2-3 innings while dropping his ERA to 1.56. Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth for his 13th save.

Alex Gonzalez had three hits and scored a run for the Braves, who scratched out just enough offense to end Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton's three-game winning streak.

Morton (5-2) continued his strong start, giving up seven hits while striking out four and walking three in seven-plus innings.

Yet he couldn't quite match Jurrjens, whose stuff has been electric this spring. The 25-year-old right-hander handcuffed the Pirates all night, needing just 97 pitches - 71 strikes - to send the Pirates to their second straight shutout loss.

The Braves came to town on the last stop of a miserable road trip in which they dropped four out of five and put starting outfielders Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth on the disabled list with injuries.

Jurrjens made sure none of it mattered against a Pirates offense that has suddenly stopped scoring runs.

Pittsburgh appeared to have found a groove last week, putting together a season-high four-game winning streak that pulled it within a game of .500. The Pirates scored 26 runs during the span but now haven't scored in 19 innings.

Jurrjens didn't give them much of a chance.

All five of Pittsburgh's hits were singles and the Pirates were unable to capitalize on the few chances they had.

They managed to put two on with none out in the sixth thanks to an infield hit and a walk, but Neil Walker popped to shortstop and Lyle Overbay hit into an inning-ending double play.

Pittsburgh didn't threaten again.

Atlanta pushed across a run in the second thanks to a rare flyball allowed by Morton. The former Brave has bounced back from an awful 2010 in which he went 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA.

He has become one of the National League's biggest
surprises behind a nasty sinker that has made opponents beat the ball into the ground with regularity.

He had won his last three decisions, including a shutout against Cincinnati last Thursday, and had a 2.62 ERA. More than 75 percent of his outs this season have come on groundballs.

The Braves didn't get the ball in the air often, but they made it count when they did.

Gonzalez gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the second, coming home on a sacrifice fly by Brooks Conrad. They made it 2-0 an inning later thanks to an RBI double by Martin Prado.

Atlanta had a chance to break it open in the fifth but Morton benefited from an overzealous fan.

Prado beat out a double-play attempt to keep the inning alive and Chipper Jones followed with a deep drive to right-center. A fan reached over the fence and tried to grab the ball with a baseball cap but it squirted free and dropped onto the field. Umpires awarded Jones a ground-rule double, forcing Prado to stop at third. The call was upheld on replay and Morton got out of the jam when Brian McCann grounded out to first.

Not that it mattered. Two runs were all Jurrjens needed.

NOTES: Atlanta 2B Dan Uggla didn't start for the first time this season but entered in the eighth as a defensive replacement. ... Atlanta RHP Tim Hudson's back is feeling much better. He will miss Wednesday's scheduled start with back pain but is expected to be available when his next turn in the rotation comes on May 30. ... Pittsburgh reliever Evan Meek pitched a scoreless ninth. Meek rejoined the club Sunday after spending time on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder.


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