Braves walk off in 15th thanks to Ross
Extra-innings win gives Cox No. 2,000 with organization
ATLANTA -- With the arrival of the summer heat, Chipper Jones predicted that the Braves would start displaying more power at home.
While this has proven to be true, the early power that the Braves produced during the 7-6, 15-inning win they claimed over the Pirates at Turner Field on Monday night didn't truly prove beneficial until David Ross delivered an infield single that allowed Jeff Francoeur to sneak across with the winning run.
"It's never easy is it," a fatigued Jones said nearly five hours after his first-inning, two-run homer prolonged his recent hot streak and led manager Bobby Cox toward his 2,000th career win with the Braves.
While becoming the fourth manager in Major League history to record 2,000 wins with one club, Cox battled through an extensive affair during which he utilized 21 of his 25 players and celebrated Kris Medlen's ability to limit the Pirates to just one hit over the final three innings.
"I can't even remember what happened hardly the first nine innings," Cox said. "I know Chipper got us out front and [Brian McCann] had a big home run. The biggest one obviously was the throw pulling the catcher off there a little."
Long after the Braves gained a 5-1 lead with a three-run fifth highlighted by homers from McCann and former Pirate Nate McLouth, the Braves finally delivered the decisive blow against Jeff Karstens. They had come up empty while putting a runner in scoring position during three of the first five extra innings that were played.
Battling a sore right groin, Martin Prado delivered a one-out single that gave the Braves runners at the corners with one out. After an intentional walk to Kelly Johnson loaded the bases, Ross directed his game-winner toward Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, a defensive wizard who made an off-balance throw that would have beat Jeff Francoeur had home-plate umpire Brian Knight not ruled that catcher Jason Jaramillo pulled his foot off the plate.
"Jack Wilson made a good play," said Ross, who had replaced McCann in the 13th inning. "I hit it pretty hard and he made a good play in the hole -- and that guy is one of the best shortstops in the league, and he almost got Frenchy at home. I didn't even know, because I just put my head down and started running hard."
Once Francoeur was ruled safe, the Braves celebrated their extra-innings win. The only other victory they've notched in the six games they've played since returning to Turner Field occurred on Sunday, when a three-run eighth accounted for yet another last at-bat win.
"The character of this team is unbelievable," McCann said. "This has been the funnest team I've been on since I got here. Everybody gets along and everybody is pulling in one direction. Our pitching staff keeps us in every ballgame."
While bashing Zach Duke for six runs and 11 hits in six innings, the Braves provided Kenshin Kawakami a comfortable lead that was reduced when Andrew McCutchen began the sixth inning with the first of his two triples. McCutchen, who was the primary reason the Pirates felt comfortable trading McLouth to the Braves last week, then capped a game-tying, three-run seventh inning with another triple, this one at the expense of Peter Moylan, who exited after allowing four consecutive one-out hits.
"It was a great win," Cox said. "We had to have that one. We blew the three-run lead in the seventh. But we battled. So did Pittsburgh. It's one of those crazy games that you feel like you should have won, and we did win it. We almost lost it, too."
After Moylan struggled, the Braves' bullpen bent -- but didn't break. The Pirates put a runner in scoring position during each of the first three extra innings and nearly won the game in the 11th inning, when McCutchen delivered a double into the left-field corner.
Had Garret Anderson not delivered a 10th-inning single that prompted Gregor Blanco's entrance as a pinch-runner, Craig Monroe might have scored from first base. But utilizing his speed, Blanco raced toward the left-field corner, gloved McCutchen's double and began a relay that ended with McCann retiring Monroe at the plate.
"The guys from the eighth inning on were lights-out," Jones said. "Acosta and Medlen and some of the guys that don't get in there a lot, got in there when the game was on the line, stepped up and held them at bay and we finally squeezed one out."
After going deep just eight times during their first 22 home games, the Braves have belted 10 homers in their past seven games at Turner Field. But the energy they felt when they exited Turner Field in the wee hours of Tuesday morning was generated by a simple infield single.
"When you get that kind of lead and then lose it, it's nice to win those kinds of games," Ross said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.