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ATL@HOU: Hanson fans 14 Astros in the win

HOUSTON -- Tommy Hanson keeps dealing, Brian McCann keeps finding the seats and the Braves keep rolling.

Hanson fanned a career-high 14 Astros to win his third consecutive start, and McCann homered for the fourth time in his last four games against Houston as the Braves notched their sixth straight victory, 4-1, on Sunday.

"I think the home-plate umpire did a really good job with the strike zone," Hanson said. "I thought he was really consistent, and that always makes it easier."

The 14 strikeouts are the most in a game for a Braves starter since John Smoltz struck out 15 Mets on April 10, 2005.

Hanson struck out at least one Astros hitter in every inning he pitched and struck out the side in the third and seventh frames. He threw 112 pitches in seven innings, allowing three hits and two walks.

"He was borderline pitch count in the sixth inning, and he goes, 'I'm good, I'm good,' said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "And he was good. He finished the seventh inning, and it was probably the best inning he had."

Hanson is 3-0 against the Astros with a 0.97 ERA in five career starts. He hadn't allowed a run in 15 previous innings at Minute Maid Park.

"I love throwing inside [with a roof], and especially here," Hanson said. "I don't know why. Certain places, I don't know if it's the backdrop or what, for whatever reason the plate feels real close to me."

The six-game winning streak matches the Braves' longest of the season after also accomplishing the feat to begin May.

Second baseman Dan Uggla found his stroke in the process. Uggla put the Braves on the board with a two-run blast to left field in the first inning. He scored twice and had multiple hits for the second consecutive game.

"The way I can tell the biggest difference is the way I'm taking pitches right now," Uggla said. "My timing's been better the last couple days. When you're on time, you're going to give yourself a chance."

Uggla entered the series in a 7-for-76 slump and is now 5-for-11 since arriving at Minute Maid Park. He provided Hanson all the run support the starter would need.

"He was making every pitch that he wanted to make it seemed like," Uggla said. "When he's on like that, he doesn't need much."

Hanson had a no-hitter through 3 1/3 innings before Carlos Lee singled in the fourth inning with Clint Barmes -- who had reached on an error -- on first base.

Hanson then fanned Brett Wallace and forced a flyout from Jason Michaels to end the threat. Wallace was one of three Astros position players who struck out three times on Sunday.

"He was throwing his offspeed [pitches] for strikes," said Astros center fielder Michael Bourn. "He had his curveball working and his slider and his changeup, whenever he used it. His fastball kept us honest."

While Hanson kept the Astros scoreless through five innings, McCann expanded the Braves' lead to 4-0 in the sixth with a blast to right field on a 3-0 pitch, which scored Uggla. McCann is 5-for-14 with eight RBIs against the Astros this season.

Lee notched two of the Astros' five hits, including an RBI double to left field in the sixth inning to put Houston's lone run on the board. It was the only extra-base hit the Astros registered against Hanson.

Eric O'Flaherty entered in the eighth inning and allowed just one hit before handing the ball to Jonny Venters, who threw a scoreless ninth inning to close the game.

Venters earned his second save in his last three appearances, as the Braves elected to rest closer Craig Kimbrel, who threw 30 pitches Saturday night.

"Venters doesn't have that big save number, but he's the best reliever in the league for me," Gonzalez said.

Venters struck out two batters and extended his consecutive scoreless-innings streak to 22, the most among Major League relievers. He lowered his ERA to 0.44, which also leads all relievers, and said it's an added thrill to be on the mound in the ninth inning.

"It's fun," Venters said. "I really enjoy it. I try to go at it the same and keep my emotions in check and go right at guys."

Atlanta pitchers struck out a combined 17 hitters while allowing just five hits and two walks.

Houston starter Brett Myers fanned six Braves, and Fernando Rodriguez came out of the Astros' bullpen to strike out another four batters. Freddie Freeman, who snapped a four-game hitting streak, earned the infamous golden sombrero with four strikeouts.

"If you play this game long enough, you're going to have four-punchout nights," Gonzalez said. Comments