07/21/09 12:05 AM ET
Big inning rewards Hanson's record night
Braves plate six runs in seventh; rookie strikes out 11
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"This was a great win for us and a good way to start a big series," said Church, who had tallied three hits in the previous 17 at-bats he'd collected since the Mets traded him to the Braves on July 10 in exchange for Jeff Francoeur.After Yunel Escobar and Garret Anderson began the bottom of the seventh with consecutive singles, Diaz fouled two sacrifice-bunt attempts before delivering his game-winner into the right-center-field gap. "It worked out well, but it's not always going to work out," said Diaz, who is hitting .410 (16-for-39) this month. "So needless to say, there will be extra bunting practice in my near future." Making his first start since July 9, Hanson needed 44 pitches to complete the first two innings. His lack of consistent command proved frustrating when he issued Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez a walk to load the bases in the second inning. This proved costly two batters later when Randy Winn delivered a two-out, two-run double. "It took awhile to get my release point going," Hanson said. "But everything came together and I felt good out there. I was just trying to battle through it in the second inning. It worked out. I felt good the rest of the game." While watching Hanson follow Winn's double by retiring 13 straight batters, Giants manager Bruce Bochy gained better understanding about why so many have tabbed the Braves rookie hurler to be the game's top right-handed pitching prospect. "We had him on the ropes," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We didn't maximize our opportunities. But he has good stuff." On the way to throwing a career-high 112 pitches, Hanson was cruising until Juan Uribe's one-out seventh-inning pop fly became a hit with assistance from Braves center fielder Nate McLouth, who lost it in the lights. After pinch-hitter Fred Lewis drew a seven-pitch walk, Aaron Roward delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly that a hustling McLouth grabbed in the right-center-field gap. "I know Nate felt terrible about losing that ball," Diaz said. "There was nothing he could have done about that. But it was great to come back and reward Tommy for his efforts and get that win for him." Making his first start since tossing his July 10 no-hitter against the Padres, Sanchez recorded three first-inning strikeouts and allowed just four hits over six innings. But two of those hits proved costly with Anderson delivering a second-inning solo shot and Chipper Jones drilling a go-ahead, two-run homer in the third inning. Throughout this season, there has seemingly been a need for the Braves to upgrade their lineup. But while watching his team score 5.58 runs per game this month, Wren is starting to feel even more comfortable about his offense's ability to complement his strong pitching staff. "We like our club the way that we're situated right now," Wren said. "We like the balance we have in our lineup. We've liked our pitching really from the beginning. I think we're observing and if there are ways to improve, I think we'll at least look at them. But right now we like our club."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.