Braves 5, Angels 4(12)
Joe Mather didn't make Atlanta's roster coming out of spring training. There were a few things he had to work on first, and now he's back with the same competitive fire - and a quicker bat.
Mather hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning with Atlanta down by four runs, and drove in the go-ahead run with a 12th-inning double in the Braves' 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
''It was disappointing when I was sent down, but it was a move they had to make,'' Mather said. ''I didn't come out and win a job by any means, so I wasn't bitter or anything like that. I was disappointed in my own performance. That just wanted me to work on my swing and get some at-bats. I felt like if I got another shot, I could help this team. They were true to their word and called me back up.''
Mather has played in 14 games since his recall, going 12 for 30. He started the game in right field because Jason Heyward had some stiffness in his right shoulder.
''I just tried to shorten my swing,'' Mather said. ''I had a tendency to swing with a little leg kick, which I was confident with, but it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. So I just went back down and went back to what I'd always done. I felt confident, even when I was sent down. I thought I was seeing the ball well and I could still apply the stuff I worked on in the winter, just in little different way.''
Trevor Bell (1-1), the eighth Angels pitcher, retired his first two batters in the 12th before Alex Gonzalez reached on an infield single up the middle and took an extra base as rookie second baseman Alex Amarista inadvertently kicked the ball into short left field for his first error in the big leagues.
Mather then lifted a 1-0 pitch to right field that fell just inside the foul line and out of the reach of Torii Hunter as Gonzalez scored.
Scott Proctor (1-0) pitched a perfect 11th inning. The victory was the right-hander's first with the Braves and improved his National League record to 6-0. The seven-year veteran is 11-10 in the AL. Rookie Craig Kimbrell got three outs for his 12th save in 16 chances.
The Braves, who had only four hits against Ervin Santana in his complete-game 9-0 victory Friday night, rallied from a 4-0 deficit against Joel Pineiro with four runs in the ninth after stranding seven runners through the first six innings.
Mather, the Braves' No. 9 hitter, got them on the board with a three-run homer to left field on Pineiro's 94th pitch after a leadoff single by Freddie Freeman and a double by Gonzalez. The homer was Mather's first since Sept. 1, 2008, against Randy Johnson at Arizona while Mather was with St. Louis.
''It seems like I left all the pitches up in that inning,'' Pineiro said. ''It was a slider to Mather. It is just one of those days. I felt fine and good, I just made the mistakes and they made me pay for it. You wanna be out there as long as you can. I know if I make a couple of pitches I could stay out there longer and the whole situation changes. I had that good lead and then made mistakes in that inning.''
Pineiro, charged with four runs, 11 hits and no walks in 6 1-3 innings, faced two more batters - retiring Nate McLouth and giving up a double to Martin Prado - before Fernando Rodney came in and retired Chipper Jones. Manager Mike Scioscia then played the percentages, bringing in lefty Hisanori Takahashi to face Brian McCann, and got burned as last year's All-Star game MVP drove in the tying run with a double to left-center.
''I hate the word deserved, but I think maybe we earned this victory just by our perseverance because we kept battling,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''Nobody gives you anything. Pineiro pitched good. We had some opportunities early, but he made some big pitches.''
Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson allowed four runs, five hits and four walks over six innings and struck out seven. The right-hander was 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA over his previous five starts.
''It was definitely a battle,'' Hudson said. ''They laid off some really good pitches and weren't swinging at them. Then I got it in the zone and they put some good at-bats together. Coming out of the game, I was the maddest I've been in a long time because I didn't make the pitches I needed to make. I don't remember the last time I was that mad. I was furious. But it was good for us to come back and win.''
One night after watching teammate Tim Hudson hit three batters in a span of two innings, Hanson plunked the second batter he faced. Erick Aybar took a 1-2 pitch off his right foot and scored when Bobby Abreu drove an 0-2 delivery into the first row of seats in the right field corner for his second homer of the season.
''You never want to start out giving up two runs in the first inning,'' Hanson said. ''I had Abreu 0-2 and I'm trying to throw a fastball inside, just to push him off the plate, but I left it oner the plate and he hit it out, so that was frustrating.''
Hanson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third when shortstop Alex Gonzalez caught Hank Conger's soft line drive. But Los Angeles made it 4-0 in the fifth on Hunter's two-run single - the Angels' final hit.
NOTES: Scioscia will be in Indiana on Sunday to attend the graduation of son Matt from Notre Dame, where he lettered in baseball the past four years. Bench coach Rob Picciolo will handle the managerial duties in the finale of the three-game series, and Scioscia will be back for Monday night's home game against Oakland. ... The crowd of 43,511 was the Angels' fifth sellout of the season in 21 home dates.