Atlanta, GA – Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman all hit two-run homers as the Atlanta Braves cruised past the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-2, Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Turner Field.
Chris Johnson finished with two doubles and one RBI, while Heyward and Freeman both hit their two-run shots during a four-run fifth inning for the Braves, winners of three straight.
Kris Medlen (2-6) tossed seven strong frames and gave up one unearned run on seven hits to earn his first win since April 9. He also fanned six in the victory.
"Every half inning, when I was out there warming up, I tried to make some adjustments," Medlen said. "I felt like I did that. It's been a while. But I always try to keep our team in the game, however many runs we're scoring and however many runs I'm giving up."
Gaby Sanchez and Clint Barmes each hit an RBI double to account for Pittsburgh's offense. The Pirates have dropped three of four.
A.J. Burnett (3-6) lasted five innings, allowing six runs on eight hits, including three homers, while walking three to absorb the loss. The right- hander has gone 0-4 over his last six starts following his last win on May 3.
"I was making pitches early, in that last inning I wasn't able to make pitches," Burnett added. "I got behind hitters. That's a good lineup, man. A good swinging team. You can't get behind them."
The Pirates opened the scoring in the third partly thanks to a miscue from B.J. Upton. Medlen plunked Neil Walker with one out before Walker moved to second on Garrett Jones' fly out to center after Upton originally overshot a throw to first. Sanchez's RBI ground-rule double that followed made it 1-0.
Burnett had no problems through the first three frames, allowing just one hit, but things changed in the fourth.
Freeman opened things with a walk and McCann put the Braves in front, 2-1, with a blast to right field on Burnett's 3-2 offering.
Later in the frame, Pittsburgh received more bad news as catcher Russell Martin and manager Clint Hurdle were ejected for arguing balls and strikes while Medlen was at the plate.
"Yes," Martin said of whether or not he knew why he was thrown out. "The umpire didn't call a pitch that I thought was a good pitch, I said (expletive) and stood up. I was frustrated and I got up and that's it. That's all what happened. That's exactly what happened and he threw me out for that."
The events of the fourth inning seemed to effect Pittsburgh and Burnett negatively, as the Braves broke open the game in the fifth with a pair of two- run homers.
Heyward smacked a shot down the right-field line to make it 4-1, and two batters later, Freeman smacked an opposite-field homer to left, extending the lead to 6-1.
Though the damage had been done, Johnson's sacrifice fly in the seventh rounded out the hosts' scoring, while Pittsburgh added a run on Barmes' RBI double in the ninth.
The Pirates placed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez on the 15-day disabled list, added right-handers Jared Hughes and Ryan Reid, recalled pitcher Phil Irwin from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned outfielder Alex Presley, all prior to Monday's game ... Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen had a scheduled night off ... McCann's bloop single in the seventh was the 1,000th hit of his career ... Burnett is 0-7 in his last 10 starts in Atlanta and has received three runs or fewer of support in each of those starts.