Uggla’s HR powers hot Braves past Blue Jays

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves were hurting in a
big way when they dropped eight straight last month to tumble to the
bottom of the NL East.

A couple weeks later, there’s a
whole new picture.

Tommy Hanson shut down another AL
East team, Dan Uggla hit a three-run homer and the Braves beat the
Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Saturday for their season-best sixth straight
win.

“We’re right back where we were,” Uggla
said.

The Braves are 8-1 since the long losing streak
and trail division-leading Washington by one game. The Nationals beat
the Red Sox 4-2 on Saturday.

“We’ve been playing good
baseball,” Uggla said. “We’re grinding out at-bats, playing better
defense and our pitchers have been outstanding. If we stay consistent
like we have been the last week or so, we’ll be all
right.”

Braves rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit
his first career homer off Drew Hutchison (5-3) in the seventh. Michael
Bourn had three hits.

Hanson (7-4) improved to 6-0
in six career starts against teams from the AL East, including a win at
Tampa Bay on May 18. He gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings
while improving to 7-2 in interleague play
overall.

“I felt strong the entire time,” Hanson said
following his longest start of the season.

Jose
Bautista hit a two-run homer in the sixth, the only inning the Blue Jays
had a runner reach third base. Toronto has lost three straight,
including the first two games of the series.

Craig
Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 18th save in 19
chances.

Atlanta helped Hanson with a couple of nice
plays in the field. Jason Heyward made a diving catch in right to take a
hit away from McCoy in the seventh, and third baseman Martin Prado made
a diving stop on Encarnacion’s sharp grounder in the
fourth.

“It was a lot of fun to watch,” Hanson
said.

The Blue Jays also were
impressed.

“Prado’s a heck of a player at third
base,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. “Not just today but yesterday,
makes a couple of diving plays to his backhand
side.

“They played a very solid
game.”

Uggla connected against Hutchison in the
third, hitting a drive to center for his 11th homer. Bourn reached on a
one-out single and Brian McCann walked with two down before Uggla went
deep.

Hutchison, a 21-year-old rookie making his
first interleague start, gave up five runs and seven hits in 6 1-3
innings.

Farrell said Hutchison was hurt by the
homers by Uggla and Simmons.

“I thought today Drew
pitched as consistent as he’s been the last three or four times out,”
Farrell said. “Two pitches found the middle of the
plate.

“He pitched with conviction. I thought he
commanded the baseball, with the exception of those two pitches, as
we’ve seen.”

Hutchison dropped to 2-3 with a 6.47 ERA
in six road starts this season.

“No, I’m not
satisfied with it,” Hutchison said. “I put us in a hole early we had to
come back from when I put us in a bigger hole and put it out of
reach.”

Simmons, playing in only his second home
game, led off the seventh with his first homer. He was given the silent
treatment for a few seconds before he was swarmed by his teammates in
the dugout.

“I saw the guys sitting down,” Simmons
said. “I’ve got a good read on them. I knew what they were doing. It was
good. It was fun.”

Jose Constanza followed with his
second infield hit. Hanson then sacrificed before Bourn greeted
left-hander Luis Perez with an RBI double.

Hanson
gave up only two hits through five innings before struggling with two
outs in the sixth. Colby Rasmus singled and scored on Bautista’s 17th
homer, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 3-2. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a
single before Kelly Johnson ended the inning with a deep fly ball caught
by Constanza at the wall in left.

Blue Jays left
fielder Rajai Davis left after the fifth inning in only his second game
back after missing a game with a jammed left middle finger. Farrell said
Davis developed a blister on the back of his left index finger from the
treatment for the jammed finger.

“The blister that’s
there creates a lot of discomfort for him,” Farrell said. “When he
swung the bat, the bat came out of his hand in the last at-bat and we
had to get him out of the game.”

Mike McCoy replaced
Davis in left field.

NOTES: The
Braves held a pregame ceremony to remember the 20-year anniversary of
“The Slide.” Francisco Cabrera’s ninth-inning hit drove in Sid Bream to
give the Braves their 1992 NL championship series victory over the
Pirates. Bream scored from second on a slide at the plate. The Braves
then lost to the Blue Jays in the World Series. … Players from the
1992 team, including John Smoltz, whose No. 29 was retired on Friday,
lost to another team of former Braves players in a softball game. …
RHP Daniel Farquhar, designated for assignment by Toronto on Saturday,
was claimed on waivers by Oakland. … Bourn has a nine-game hitting
streak. … RHP Julio Teheran will be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to
make a fill-in start for Tim Hudson on Sunday. Hudson has bone spurs in
his left ankle and could return to the rotation on Wednesday against
the Yankees. LHP Ricky Romero will start for Toronto.