Baseball / Sports

Braves extend winning streak to 9 games by beating Diamondbacks, 10-4

ATLANTA -- The streaking Atlanta Braves had made winning look so simple lately, maybe they wanted to challenge themselves Saturday by spotting the Arizona Diamondbacks three runs.

How else to explain two errors by Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons in a three-run Arizona first inning?

Well, actually that was the second two-error inning Simmons in a span of 2 1/2 weeks. But the Braves offense -- including Simmons -- responded by scoring seven runs in the first four innings of a 10-4 win that extended their winning streak to nine games and pushed the Braves to 11 games over .500 for the first time this season.

Aaron Harang (8-6) settled down after the first inning and didn't face more than four batters over any of the next seven innings on the way to winning his third consecutive start. He was charged with nine hits and four runs (three earned) in eight innings, with one walk (intentional) and one strikeout.

Simmons matched a career high with four RBIs, B.J. Upton had two hits including a first-inning leadoff triple to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games, and Justin Upton had three RBIs including a two-run homer in the sixth inning, the first homer in six games for the suddenly small-ball-proficient Braves.

Rookie catcher Christian Bethancourt had his first multihit game with three hits including his first extra-base hit (second-inning double off the wall) and the first four in the Braves' lineup had two hits apiece. Freddie Freeman had a double and an RBI triple and has a .402 career average against Arizona with 18 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs in 23 games.

Tommy La Stella added two hits and two walks for the Braves, whose winning streak is their longest since a 14-game streak last July and August. They'll go for their third consecutive series sweep Sunday afternoon in their last home game before the All-Star break.

When the Diamondbacks scored three runs in a sloppy first inning, it looked like Harang might be poised for his third meltdown start in what's been an otherwise stellar season for the well-traveled veteran. But Harang stemmed that tide quickly, getting nine outs in nine batters over the next three innings.

The Braves' offense chipped away at the lead -- a run in the first, a run in the third -- before swarming Diamondbacks starter Mike Bolsinger for five runs in the fifth on a walk, an error and four hits including Simmons' two-run double and Freeman's hustling RBI triple on a groundball down the first-base line to the right field corner.

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

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