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(Monday, August 18)
Final Score: Atlanta 7, Pittsburgh 3
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons got the Braves started on the right foot with back-to-back home runs and Atlanta downed the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-3, on Monday.
The homers sparked a six-run first inning against Vance Worley (5-3) and gave Atlanta enough breathing room with Ervin Santana not completely in peak form.
"For me, it wasn't my best game today," Santana said. "I gave up three runs, and when you don't have your best stuff and you give up three runs that's huge, three solo homers, it doesn't hurt."
Atlanta's bullpen combined for 3 2/3 hitless innings behind Santana (13-6), who was charged with three runs on nine hits to remain unbeaten since July 9.
Starling Marte went 3-for-4 with a double and two solo home runs while Neil Walker added a solo blast in a losing cause.
Andrew McCutchen is eligible to return from the disabled list on Tuesday, and the Pirates cannot welcome back the reigning NL MVP soon enough.
Pittsburgh has dropped six in a row, while the Braves have won five of their last six, including three straight against the Athletics over the weekend.
Atlanta maintained its momentum with a six-spot in the first inning .
Worley's third pitch of the game was redirected into the right-field bleachers by Heyward, and Simmons sent a 2-0 offering into the left-field seats shortly thereafter.
The Braves kept their foot on the gas pedal with Chris Johnson and Gerald Laird each singling in a run around a Tommy La Stella strikeout.
Santana came up with the bases loaded later in the frame and appeared to bounce into a double play, but Walker's throw to first sailed wide and two more runners came around for a 6-0 difference.
"In the first inning I was east-west," Worley said. "I was just missing and staying flat. After that, I figured it out and it clicked."
Worley shook off the awful start and battled through six innings, and the Pirates chipped away at the early deficit with three long balls.
Marte led off the second with a homer, Walker hammered one an estimated 432 feet into the Allegheny River an inning later, and Marte went deep again in the fourth -- this time to straightaway center.
Pittsburgh had two runners in scoring position in the sixth and did not get a run across. After Santana struck out Brent Morel, Luis Avilan retired pinch- hitter Ike Davis on a sharp lineout to Johnson, who doubled off Travis Snider at second.
Heyward's sacrifice fly in the eighth capped the scoring.
The Braves began the game with back-to-back homers for the fifth time in franchise history ... Heyward had three hits and recorded his sixth career leadoff home run ... Marte's only other multi-home run game came against Seattle on June 25, 2013 ... Worley struck out eight and was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on nine hits ... Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez, who has committed an MLB-high 25 errors at third base, played first base for the first time in his career ... Santana has won six straight decisions.
08/19 01:26:27 ET
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