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Six-run sixth carries Braves to much-needed win
ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Braves scored six runs in the sixth inning, sending 10 hitters to the plate and taking advantage of a dropped fly ball by right fielder Jon Jay to rally for a much-needed 8-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
The Braves fell behind 4-1, giving up a two-run homer to Matt Holliday and a two more RBIs to a most unlikely hitter: pitcher Chris Carpenter, who had a run-scoring single and the second homer of his career batting in the eighth spot.
Atlanta won for just the third time in nine games and remained one game behind NL East-leading Philadelphia, which beat the New York Mets 8-4. St. Louis began the night five games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central.
McCann followed with a deep fly ball to right that would’ve brought in a run, since Heyward was tagging, but wound up driving in both runners when Jay dropped the ball just short of the wall. McCann rumbled all the way to third, and trotted home on Derrek Lee’s run-scoring single.
That wasn’t the only break for the Braves. Conrad appeared to be picked off at second on a throw from catcher Yadier Molina, but umpire Bill Welke called the runner safe. Even Conrad looked a bit surprised by the call, the tag appearing to get him on the right shoulder just before he scrambled back to the bag.
Carpenter was lifted after Lee’s hit, having failed to get an out in the sixth. He was charged with six earned runs and eight hits. Melky Cabrera added a sacrifice fly before Conrad, batting for the second time, hit a flyout that finally ended the inning.
St. Louis scored a pair of runs off Jonny Venters in the seventh, but Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner closed out the Cardinals, with Wagner earning his 33rd save in 40 chances. Atlanta won its major league-leading 50th home game.
Peter Moylan (6-2) won with a scoreless sixth after taking over for starter Mike Minor, who surrendered four runs and seven hits in five-plus innings.
Carpenter allowed more than three earned runs for the first time since July 3, a span of 12 starts.
Manager Tony La Russa’s unorthodox lineup, revived for the series in Atlanta in hopes of sparking his slumping team, appeared to backfire when Carpenter, batting just .098 (6 for 61), came up in the second with two outs and two runners aboard.
Then it was Carpenter’s turn to go deep. Minor left a fastball out over the plate and his counterpart, swinging late but making good contact, sent a drive to right that just cleared the wall over a leaping Heyward. Carpenter made an extremely slow trot around the bases, thoroughly savoring the moment.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
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