Sanchez's two big hits lift Pirates past Atlanta, 3-2

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It took until the Pirates' 35th game for the bullpen to blow a save, but Freddy Sanchez bailed them out.

Sanchez had a two-run single to bring a 2-1 lead in the seventh and, after Damaso Marte and Tyler Yates allowed Atlanta to tie, Sanchez came through again in the ninth with a two-out RBI single to bring a 3-2 victory against the Braves tonight before 21,050 at PNC Park.

The Pirates' winning streak is at four, and the Braves' streak was snapped at six.

After one out, Jose Bautista singled off Atlanta reliever Jeff Bennett. Bautista was forced out at second, but pinch-hitter Doug Mientkiewicz, mired in a 4-for-33 slump, lined a single to right to sustain the rally.

Sanchez waited out a 2-1 fastball and hit a roller up the middle for the Pirates' first walkoff victory of the season.

Starter Ian Snell allowed one run on two hits over seven mostly smooth innings. He struck out six and walked five.

Although his record remained at 2-2, it was his longest outing by a full inning, and he had allowed at least five hits in each of his first six starts. His fastball command was mostly sharp, and his offspeed stuff effective enough.

Each team put up nothing but zeroes through five innings, but Atlanta broke through in the sixth.

Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira drew walks, and Brian McCann singled to load the bases. Jeff Francouer bounced to first baseman Adam LaRoche for what should have been a 3-6-1 double play, but Snell never moved to cover first, and a run came across.

Still, the damage was minimized when Mark Kotsay ended the inning with a 4-6-3 double play.

The Pirates finally got a man to second base against Glavine when Snell, a career .060 hitter, led off the bottom half with a double. He was bunted to third by Sanchez, but Nate McLouth's flyout was too shallow for a tag and, after a walk, Ryan Doumit grounded out.

The Pirates were trailing, 1-0, against Tom Glavine when Xavier Nady's hustling double opened the seventh. Adam LaRoche walked, and Jose Bautista bunted them over. Brian Bixler was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Jason Michaels, freshly acquired from the Cleveland Indians, struck out on three pitches.

But Sanchez lashed Glavine's first-pitch fastball into the right-field corner for two runs. Bixler tried to score from first but was thrown out at the plate.

Atlanta came right back to tie in the eighth: After Marte got two quick outs, he gave up two singles. Pirates manager John Russell summoned Yates, and his first pitch to Francouer was shot into right for an RBI single, and it was 2-2.

Yates was back out for the eighth. Gregor Blanco singled, pinch-hitter Greg Norton walked, and Russell gave the ball to John Grabow, the team's best at stranding runners.

He came through in a big way, freezing Kelly Johnson with a slider, then getting Yunel Escobar to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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