Braves 6, Pirates 1
The Atlanta Braves keep winning in April.
They know how important that could be in September.
Tommy Hanson allowed one run in six innings, Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones came through in a four-run seventh that broke a close game open, and the streaking Braves defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Friday night.
Atlanta won for the 13th time in 16 games after an 0-4 start. Those first four games are long forgotten, but not last year's historic collapse that cost the Braves a spot in the playoffs.
''Everybody knows how important these games are,'' Uggla said. ''This will pay dividends in September.''
Hanson (3-2) worked around six hits and three walks, his only blemish an RBI single by Garrett Jones in the fourth. Kris Medlen worked the final three innings, earning his first career save. Uggla and Jones drove in two runs apiece in the seventh - and both contributed stellar defensive plays as well.
''The biggest thing right now is our starting pitching,'' Uggla said. ''If we've got a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, we'll always have a pretty good chance. We're getting some timely hitting, too, some good at-bats, picking each other up. That's the goal every day.''
Burnett (1-1) went six innings for the Pirates, pitching well but not enough to prevent his eighth loss in nine career decisions at Turner Field.
''You're always one pitch away from getting out of jams,'' he said.
The Braves were clinging to a 2-1 lead when they broke it open against the Pittsburgh bullpen in the seventh. After Tony Watson gave up a single and walked consecutive batters to load the bases, the Pirates brought in right-hander Evan Meek to face Uggla.
Bad move. Uggla lined a double to right-center, two runs coming home to make it 4-1. Jones followed with a hit past the drawn-in third baseman, driving in two more runs.
Burnett matched Hanson's line as far as hits (six) and walks (three). But the Braves manufactured a couple of runs against the right-hander, who hasn't won at Turner Field since Oct. 7, 2001, with the Marlins. This was his sixth straight loss in Atlanta.
The Braves pounced when Tyler Pastornicky walked in the third. Hanson put down a sacrifice bunt, the runner moved to third on Michael Bourn's groundout, and Martin Prado came through with the two-out single to right.
Atlanta was even more resourceful in the fourth. Jason Heyward walked with two outs, stole second and raced home when Pastornicky lined a hit into right-center, the ball just clearing the glove of leaping second baseman Neil Walker.
''It was an alright game, a few pitches here and there,'' Burnett said. ''But the walks. The walks killed me.''
The Pirates scored their lone run in the top half of the fourth. Andrew McCutchen singled, stole second and scored on Jones' run-scoring single. The Pirates were poised for a really big inning when Hanson walked Pedro Alvarez and Casey McGehee to load the bases with one out, but Rod Barajas grounded into a double play.
''We need one hit,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We need a knockout punch. We're still missing that one ball in the gap.''
The Braves ended the seventh and eighth with defensive highlights.
Uggla went flying out into short center to make a diving grab on Nate McLouth's popup, managing to hang on even after Pastornicky tumbled over him. Then it was Jones, three days removed from his 40th birthday, making a diving catch on a liner by McCutchen.
NOTES: McGehee was dropped to seventh in the order, the lowest the first baseman has batted this season. McGehee usually hits fourth or fifth, but Hurdle decided to shake things up against the right-handed Hanson. Jones batted fourth, followed by Walker and Alvarez, giving the Pirates three straight left-handed hitters before McGehee. ... Jair Jurrjens, a 2011 All-Star who was sent to the minors after a miserable start, will make his debut for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday at Toledo. That same day, Tim Hudson makes his season debut for the Braves after recovering from back surgery. ... Pirates minor league OF Josh Bell underwent surgery Friday to repair the meniscus in his left knee. He will be return to the Pirates' spring training base in Bradenton, Fla., to begin his rehab and is expected to return this season. ... Braves C Brian McCann left the game after the fifth with a strained muscle in his right side. He was day to day. ... In the second of four games at Turner Field, Pittsburgh will send Erik Bedard (0-4) to the mound against Atlanta's Randall Delgado (2-1) on Saturday.