Braves 5, Orioles 4

David Ross got a rare start in place of All-Star catcher Brian

McCann on Saturday night. Ross said his basic plan was ”OK, don’t

mess this up.”

Mission accomplished, and then some.

Ross hit his second career grand slam, and the Atlanta Braves

held on for a 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday

night.

McCann is batting .386 with five homers and 10 RBIs in his last

12 games, and Ross said taking that bat out of the middle of the

lineup ”is a tough thing to do.” Ross said he takes pride in

playing well enough in his few starts so McCann can take the full

day off.

Tim Hudson overcame a first-inning fall to pitch six innings and

Jordan Schafer made a couple of nice plays in center field, helping

Atlanta to its fifth consecutive win and 10th in its last 12 games

overall.

Mark Reynolds hit two first-pitch homers for Baltimore,

including a two-run shot to center field in the fourth. Reynolds’

17th homer landed about 10 rows deep in the left-field seats in the

sixth.

Nick Markakis’ seventh-inning homer off Scott Linebrink trimmed

Atlanta’s lead to 5-4, but the Orioles (35-45) couldn’t complete

the rally. They have lost five straight and are 10 games below .500

for the first time this season.

Markakis finished with three hits one day after his career-best

19-game hitting streak came to an end.

The Braves scored all their runs in the fourth, taking advantage

of a key mistake by Luke Scott. Dan Uggla hit a sinking liner to

left with two out but Scott dropped it. Uggla was awarded an RBI

single.

”That’s a tough play, either way, but that’s not what beat

us,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.

After Jake Arrieta (9-5) walked Nate McLouth to load the bases,

Ross hit a drive into the left-field seats to give Atlanta a 5-2

lead. It was Ross’ fourth homer of the season.

”He’s great,” said Hudson, who also played with Ross at Auburn

University. ”Back at Auburn, he had a knack for hitting big

homers. It’s happened so far here.”

Arrieta said Ross hit a fastball ”right in the middle” of the

plate.

”I got two quick outs,” Arrieta said of the inning. ”Had a

guy 0-2. Then everything fell apart.

”It’s a terrible feeling. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.”

In his first at-bat, Ross surprised Arrieta and the Orioles with

a bunt single.

Baltimore had runners on second and third with two out in the

eighth, but Markakis flied out to left against Eric O’Flaherty.

Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 24th save.

Hudson (7-6) wasn’t sharp but was helped by two impressive grabs

by Schafer. After hauling in Reynolds’ drive at the wall in the

second, Schafer made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning

track on J.J. Hardy’s fly ball in the fifth.

Hudson gave up three runs and eight hits, struck out six and

walked three.

Arrieta pitched five innings for the Orioles, yielding five runs

and six hits.

Hudson’s night began with an unexpected tumble off the mound.

His cleats stuck in the dirt as he was starting to deliver his

third pitch to leadoff hitter Hardy. He kept the ball as he landed

sideways, then tumbled onto the grass.

Hudson, grinning and obviously embarrassed, tipped his cap to

the fans in a self-effacing manner as third baseman Chipper Jones

held his glove over his face to hide his laughter.

”I looked like a big stooge out there,” Hudson said.

”Something like that, you have to laugh about it.”

Hudson regrouped to strike out Hardy and he continued to smile –

especially when looking over at Jones – the rest of the inning.

”I’ve never been more embarrassed for a teammate than when he

fell before a sellout crowd on fireworks night,” Ross said.

There was rain, but play continued, in the final two innings.

There was a brief delay in the middle of the eighth as dry dirt was

applied to the pitcher’s mound and around home plate.

NOTES: The Braves optioned RHP Cristhian Martinez to Triple-A

Gwinnett and recalled RHP Cory Gearrin for the third time this

season. … Ross hit his only other grand slam on Aug. 31, 2010,

against the Mets. … The Orioles fell to 6-11 in interleague play

and 4-14 in their last 18 road games. … Attendance was

36,259.