After a two hour and twenty minute rain delay, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves managed to play Game 1 of their four-game set Monday night at Turner Field. Starter James McDonald (7-4) pitched a gem for Pittsburgh as the Pirates won 3-1 in a stormy Atlanta.
In an old-school pitcher’s duel, McDonald outpitched Tim Hudson (9-7) by fanning nine Braves in 5 1/3 innings to set a new career high. McDonald did not walk a batter.
The Pirates took advantage of back-to-back walks to start off the second as Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez were granted free passes.
After Lyle Overbay advanced both runners 90 feet with a sac fly, Ronny Cedeno’s groundout to third allowed McCutchen to cross home plate. Michael McKenry followed that with a two-out single to score Alvarez as the Bucs built an early 2-0 lead.
McDonald cruised to the sixth inning before giving up singles to Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla. After David Ross was awarded first on McKenry’s catcher interference to load the bases with one out, McDonald was relieved by Chris Resop.
Resop then managed to get Nate McLouth to foul out, followed by an Alex Gonzalez strikeout. Atlanta’s only other threat came in the eighth when long-time Brave Chipper Jones lead off with a solo shot to right off of reliever Daniel McCutchen.
In relief, Jose Veras managed to post a scoreless eighth, which was highlighted by a strikeout of pinch-hitter Brian McCann.
McCutchen collected the other Buccos’ RBI as his sixth inning single brought home Garret Jones, who led off the inning with a walk.
Hudson pitched seven frames, striking out eight while rendering only five hits. Pittsburgh took advantage of three walks by converting the free passes into three earned runs.
Jones made his first start at third for the Braves since July 9 as he had surgery on an injured knee. In his return, he went 2-for-4 with a single and RBI to go with his ninth homer of the year. Alvarez also made a return for Pittsburgh. In his first game since May 19, he went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and run scored. He also committed an error in the first inning.
With the win, the Pirates are still tied with St. Louis for the lead in the NL Central with Milwaukee a ½ game behind.
Pittsburgh started a seven-game road trip Monday night which will include four games in Atlanta before traveling to Philadelphia for a three-game series with the Phillies. Since June 13, the Pirates are 22-14; third best in the NL.
Both Freeman and Uggla extended their hitting streaks for the Braves as they both registered a single Monday night. Uggla’s now stands at 15 games while Freeman owns a 9-game streak.
Presley on DL
Leftfielder Alex Presley was placed on the 15-day DL Monday with a left thumb contusion. In 20 games this year, Presley is hitting .333 with nine RBIs.
The Pirates and Braves will meet at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday night for the second game of their four-game stand. Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.28 ERA) will toe the rubber for Pittsburgh against Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson (11-5, 3.06 ERA)