Baseball / Sports

Braves beat Angels, 4-3, with 4-run 1st inning

ATLANTA -- Maybe the problem in Colorado was just a little too much altitude? The Atlanta Braves came back down a little closer to sea level, yes, but back home. They made themselves comfortable again with a four-run first inning off Los Angeles Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson.

Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer to jump start the Braves to a 4-3 win over the Angels Friday night.

The win snapped a six-game losing streak to start interleague play this season for the Braves, and it opened a rare homestand in the month of June with a little something positive from the Braves offense.

A B.J. Upton error in the eighth inning left rookie right-hander Shae Simmons to face the gauntlet of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton with a runner aboard. Trout doubled and Pujols cashed in a two-run single to pull the Angels within 4-3. But Simmons averted further damage and turned the ball over to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

Gattis, who's been one of the rare bright spots of late, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games by launching a three-run home run in the first inning. That's Gattis for you, who has hit six home runs now during this streak, and leads all major-league catchers with 14 home runs.

Chris Johnson followed Gattis to the plate in the first inning with a home run of his own, his third of the season, to give the Braves back-to-back home runs for the third time this season and a 4-0 lead.

All four runs came with two outs and after Justin Upton had just come a few feet shy from hitting a three-run home run of his own on a flyball to the warning track in left field. But before Upton had time to hang his head, Gattis finished the job.

The first inning did come at a price, though, as Wilson hit Jason Heyward in the right hand with his second pitch of the game. Heyward initially shook it off and stayed in the game, but after playing the top of the second in the field he was removed for a pinch hitter after his hand tightened up. X-rays taken during the game were negative and the Braves announced he had a right hand contusion, and was considered day to day.

Aaron Harang used the four-run cushion to settle into another good nights' work and his first win in more than a month. Harang had been 0-2 over his past five starts despite a 3.90 ERA in that time. On Friday, he limited the Angels to one run in six innings, allowing only four hits, to claim his first win since May 11 when he defeated the Cubs.

The only run Harang allowed came on a wild pitch, trying to get Trout to chase a ball low, with a runner at third.

Harang tried to make it tough on himself, allowing at least a runner on base the first two times he faced the heart of the Angels' order, but he got through unscathed each time. His only run allowed came from the bottom of the Angels order, after he gave up a leadoff double to catcher Hank Conger in the third inning and watched him take third base on the first of his two wild pitches. The second cost him the run.

Andrelton Simmons might have made his play of the year so far, as the platinum gold winning shortstop dove to his right to snare a sharp line drive off the bat of Josh Hamilton in the sixth inning.

(c)2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

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