Spring Training: Braves edge Pirates, 7-5 (2015)

The Atlanta Braves staged a ninth inning rally to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 7-5 score on Thursday afternoon.

At the plate: A five-run first inning is always a nice way to start a game. Atlanta jumped all over Pittsburgh’s Vance Worley to do just that. Jace Peterson got the scoring started with an RBI-single. Two more crossed the plate on ground-outs from Christian Bethancourt and Kelly Johnson, extending the lead to 3-0. Bethancourt returned to the lineup after a eight day absence because of flu-like symptoms. He went 1-for-3 and caught five innings.

Chris Johnson belted a two-run homer to cap the five-run rally. The Atlanta third baseman has really heated up of late, finishing 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, two RBI and two runs scored.  Johnson has seven hits in his last 12 at-bats, boosting his Grapefruit League average from .120 on March 19 to .270 following Thursday’s game.

After the Pirates chipped away at that lead throughout the day and tied things at 5-5 in the eighth, the Braves bats got back to work in the top of the ninth against Clayton Richard (1-1). Johnny Gomes connected for his first home run of the spring and Jesus Flores picked up a run-scoring single to make it a 7-5 game. Gomes was one of four Braves to enjoy multi-hit games as he finished 2-for-4 with the homer and two runs scored. Alberto Callaspo finished 2-for-4 with a run scored. Leadoff man Eric Young Jr. cranked out his third consecutive multi-hit performance, going 2-for-5 with a run scored.

On the mound: The going was a little bumpier for Wandy Rodriguez this time out. His 12 inning scoreless streak was snapped immediately as Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the first with a home run.  Rodriguez got hit fairly hard throughout his five innings of work, allowing single runs in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings. Five of the eight hits he allowed went for extra bases, including a pair of home runs. Neil Walker was responsible for the other homer, connecting in the fifth inning to draw the Pirates within a run, 5-4.

Rodriguez’ final line: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Atlanta’s bullpen held that one run lead with scoreless frames from Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan. The Pirates got to Josh Outman in the eighth inning, however. After striking out the first batter he faced, Outman allowed three straight singles to load the bases for slugger Pedro Alvarez. With nowhere to put him, Outman uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score. Aaron Kurcz (1-1) came on to escape the inning and pick up the victory. Brady Feigl worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn his first save of the spring.

Of note: Prior to the game, the Braves announced that veteran catcher John Buck has decided to retire after 11 major league seasons… Atlanta now has 43 players remaining in big league camp following Buck’s retirement.

 

Up next: Braves vs. Red Sox — Friday, March 27 at 1:05 p.m.

RHP Julio Teheran vs. RHP Clay Buchholz

 

Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter

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