PITTSBURGH -- Pirates outfielder Matt Diaz enjoyed the chance to have a locker next to Jonny Venters' last year. But it's safe to say the popular former Brave did not exactly enjoy having to face Venters during the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game at PNC Park.
Venters's appearance during Tuesday' s 2-0 win over the Bucs consisted solely of the four-pitch strikeout he notched against Diaz.
"He tries to tell me he can't throw strikes and then he throws me a nasty slider right on the black with the first pitch," Diaz said. "He's good. He's really good. He obviously has unbelievable stuff and it looks like he's starting to harness it."
During his five-year stint in Atlanta, Diaz feasted on left-handed relievers. Now that he has faced Venters, the veteran outfielder has an even better understanding of why many believe his good friend stands as the game's top left-handed reliever.
"I'm trying to think of anyone who would even be considered better than him," Diaz said. "Lefties can't hit him. There are a lot of left-handed relievers designed to get lefties out. But standing in there as a righty last night, you get why righties don't hit him very well, either. He's just nasty."
Diaz said he did not feel too odd playing against Atlanta on Tuesday night. While dining with Venters at a Japanese steakhouse in downtown Pittsburgh on Monday night, Diaz had a chance to talk to Chipper Jones, David Ross, Eric Hinske and many of his other former teammates.
Chipper disagrees with fan interference ruling
PITTSBURGH -- When Chipper Jones saw a fan make contact with his fifth-inning double just before it hit the right-center field wall at PNC Park on Tuesday night, he knew the umpires were not going to exercise their right to rule Martin Prado would have scored from first base on the play.
"Everybody in the ballpark knew Prado was going to score, especially with two outs," Jones said. "But there's really nothing you can do."
Crew chief Jeff Kellogg and the other umpires had the power to award Prado the plate on the play. But after huddling, they said that they didn't feel he had advanced far enough past second base to produce certainty that he would have scored on the play. Thus they kept him at third base as a result of the ground-rule double created by fan interference.
"You cover [yourself] by just giving the guy a ground-rule double," Jones said. "It doesn't matter if there was two outs and the guy would have scored regardless. I think there's a lot of grey area with that rule right there."
Fortunately for the Braves, the ruling did not prevent them from claiming a 2-0 win over the Pirates.
Kellogg and his staff opted to look at video replay after first-base umpire Tim Timmons said he was not sure the fan did not make contact with the ball above the top of the wall. Because this was a review of a potential home run, the umpires were able to look at the replay.
But by rule, they are not allowed to make a decision on where Prado was based on what they saw on the replay.
"The only way to get [fans] to leave the ball alone is to punish them and that's kind of what I was thinking," Jones said. "I was thinking maybe these guys are going to make a point right here and say, 'We'll teach them a lesson, when one of their fans reaches over and touches a ball, it will cost them a run.'
"Then [Pirates manager] Clint Hurdle would have gone absolutely irate, gotten thrown out of the game, appealed to MLB and they would be going through a big ol' stink."
Prado not in starting lineup for first time in '11
PITTSBURGH -- Martin Prado entered this season thinking he would like to be in the lineup for each of the Braves' 162 games. But Prado certainly was not complaining when he was left out of the lineup for the first time Wednesday afternoon.
"I know if you play 110 percent every single day, it's going to happen for some reason," said Prado, who entered in the ninth inning of Atlanta's 2-1 win and went 0-for-1. "It's not that you want it. But injuries are part of the game. You play the game hard every day, it's going to happen."
When asked to explain, Prado said he is not dealing with any specific injuries. Instead, it seems he might be dealing with some of the expected mental and physical fatigue that has built since he began aggressively rehabbing from the strained oblique muscle and hip pointer that prematurely ended his 2010 season during September's final week.
"There are some days when I feel my body is not responding," Prado said. "But I'm still playing and doing my best. I feel players sometimes mentally get tired. It's not just physically. It's mental, too."
Prado has continued to be one of the club's most consistent offensive contributors. He has hit .333 with a .509 slugging percentage in his past 25 games.
Chipper says he was out of position on bunt
PITTSBURGH -- After making a diving catch of Charlie Morton's sacrifice bunt attempt in Tuesday night's 5-0 win over the Pirates, Braves third baseman Chipper Jones turned toward Jair Jurrjens and began yelling at his pitcher.
By the time they got back to the dugout, an embarrassed and amused Jones found himself issuing an apology by hugging Jurrjens.
Relaying manager Fredi Gonzalez's command, Jones gave the signal for a wheel play. But he positioned himself with the thought that he had signaled for the pickoff play.
"I gave the right sign," Jones said. "Everybody did the right thing, except for me."
Fortunately for Jones, he was still able to make the diving grab that quieted the threat the Pirates had built after putting runners at first and second with just one out in the fifth inning.
"If I'd have been where I should have been, I would have made that play standing up," Jones said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.