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Hanson pitches 7 scoreless innings to lead Braves

POSTED: April 13, 2011 12:15 p.m.

ATLANTA (AP) — The Braves did it all. Pitched well. Went deep. Manufactured runs. Played some brilliant defense.

Tommy Hanson pitched four-hit ball over seven innings for his first win, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann homered, and Chipper Jones drove in two runs to lead Atlanta Braves past the Florida Marlins 5-0 Tuesday night.

Hanson (1-2) finally got a few runs to work with and the Braves turned in several nifty defensive plays, two of them diving stops by shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

"We did a little bit of everything," Jones said. "Tonight was as perfect a nine-inning game as we've played yet. It's a good formula. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of it."

The Braves has struggled offensively over their first 10 games, scoring three runs or fewer seven times — including both of Hanson's starts. This time, that wasn't a problem. Heyward homered in the fourth, McCann in the fifth.

There just weren't many people there to see it. The announced crowd of 13,856 was the smallest in Turner Field history.

On a cool, breezy night, Hanson used his changeup often and effectively, mixed in with a slider and curve.

"It was one of those days when everything worked," the big right-hander said.

Not for Chris Volstad (0-1), who was chased in the fifth, having allowed eight hits and all five runs. And, unlike Hanson, he didn't have any runs to work with.

The Marlins went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and hit into a pair of double plays.

"We've been struggling pretty much all season with runners in scoring position and today wasn't any different," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Hanson was making his pitches with runners in scoring position."

Volstad breezed through the first two innings before Atlanta broke through in the third after the first two hitters struck out. Martin Prado lined a single and Nate McLouth followed with a double to the gap in right-center, Prado coming all the way around to score. Jones followed with another two-out hit, going the other way to left to make it 2-0.

Heyward made it 3-0 in the fourth, hitting a towering drive over the 400-foot sign in center field for his third homer of the season.

The Braves finished off Volstad in the fifth. One run was a lesson in small ball. The other was pure power.

Prado led off with a double, McLouth sacrificed him to third, setting up Jones to finish the job with a sacrifice fly. McCann came up next and got a more immediate result — a drive into the Braves' right-field bullpen for his first homer of the season. That was it for the Marlins starter.

"It was nice to see our lineup score some runs," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who managed the Marlins for 3½ years before he was fired last summer. "I know what they're capable of. Hopefully we can get on a roll."

Gonzalez said it was no big deal to be facing the team he used to manage for the first time.

"Nope. Just a baseball game."

Hanson and the relievers got plenty of defensive help, too.

In the sixth, Hanley Ramirez hit a wicked two-hopper that appeared headed for left field, but Alex Gonzalez flopped down to make a backhanded grab. His throw to first skipped in the dirt, but Freddie Freeman dug it out so the defensive gem didn't go wasted.

"Wow," Hanson said on the mound.

The Braves weren't done. The next inning, McLouth raced to deep center to haul in a drive by Logan Morrison before planting his face into the padded wall. Again, Hanson saluted the effort, raising his hand toward McLouth, who replied with a tip of his cap.

Hanson gave way to the bullpen in the eighth but, fortunately for the Braves, Gonzalez was still at short. He came up with another diving stop in the hole, rolling over in time to get a force at second that prevented at least one run from scoring.

"Gonzo was unbelievable defensively," his manager said. "I think he was just showing off at the end."

Three relievers finished up the combined five-hitter.

NOTES: Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez said he's got no hard feelings after a wild game last Sunday in Houston, but has no doubt that Astros reliever Aneury Rodriguez intentionally hit Gaby Sanchez with a pitch. The reliever and Houston manager Brad Mills were both ejected and received suspensions, the pitcher for three games and Mills for one. "On our part, it's done," Edwin Rodriguez said. "Hopefully, they've turned the page, too." ... Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens will make his first start Saturday against the New York Mets. He strained his right oblique near the end of spring training and skipped over in the rotation a couple of times to give him adequate time to recover. ... For the first time since opening day, Ramirez and Mike Stanton were both in the Florida lineup. They have been plagued by injuries over the first two weeks of the season.

 

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