HOUSTON -- After getting blown out in the first game and needing late rallies to win the other two, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox was pleased to escape Houston with a series victory.
Omar Infante drove in the go-ahead run with a 10th-inning double and Brian McCann added a grand slam later in the inning to give the Braves an 8-2 win over the Astros on Wednesday."It was a good series," Cox said. "We took it. That's all you can ask. A sweep would have been great, but we almost got swept ourselves."Infante's hit bounced low on the wall in left field and scored Rick Ankiel to put Atlanta back on top 3-2, giving closer Billy Wagner (6-2) the win after he blew a save in the ninth. Brandon Lyon (6-5) intentionally walked Melky Cabrera to set up a run-scoring single by Alex Gonzalez, and McCann's pinch-hit slam off Jeff Fulchino put the game out of reach.The Braves trailed 2-1 on Tuesday night but won 4-2 after a pair of homers in the ninth."As long as our team is winning ... that's what it's all about," said Wagner, the former Astros pitcher who will retire after this season. "That's not how I guess you'd draw it up, but you don't have much you can do about it. But a win's a win and it's good for us."Braves starter Tommy Hanson gave up two hits and didn't allow an earned run before being replaced by Jonny Venters. He walked one in a scoreless eighth before Wagner took over.Hunter Pence tied it 2-2 when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Johnson off Wagner in the ninth inning. Pence singled on a grounder to third base before advancing to third on a single by Lee. Wagner retired the next two batters to send the game to extra innings.Ankiel walked with one out in the 10th before reaching second on an error by Pedro Feliz, who couldn't handle the throw to first base. Lyon intentionally walked Eric Hinske before Infante's go-ahead hit and the flood of runs that followed."I didn't make good pitches and they hit them," Lyon said. "I just have to come back next time and make better pitches."Houston closer Matt Lindstrom wasn't available Wednesday after pitching two straight days and dealing with a sore back.Cabrera doubled and scored on a groundout by Gonzalez to make it 1-0 in the first inning. Cabrera had advanced to third on a passed ball by catcher Jason Castro to set up the run, before Rodriguez struck out Matt Diaz to get out of that inning.Hanson didn't allow a hit until Michael Bourn's single leading off the fourth. Bourn stole second and tried to steal third but got caught in a rundown. Hanson dropped the throw while covering the base, though, allowing Bourn to return safely to second."One of the most amazing things to see is Bourn in the run down," Pence said. "Typically, for anyone that is human and not Superman, when they get in a rundown, they're generally out. I don't think anyone has a chance to get him and it came up pretty clutch for us."That's because Bourn stole third anyway and scored on a single by Pence to make it 1-1.Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez retired 13 straight before a single to Brooks Conrad with two outs in the fifth inning. Ankiel walked before Hanson's single on a grounder to left field scored Conrad and put Atlanta on top 2-1.Hanson retired the next ten straight after Pence's hit before walking Johnson with one out in the seventh inning. He got back on track after that, sitting down the next two batters to end the inning."I definitely had some of my better stuff today," Hanson said. "Even warming up, my slider, my curveball felt really good and I felt really good command-wise."Rodriguez allowed five hits and one earned run in seven innings. He had nine strikeouts to give him 771 for his career and move him past Mike Hampton (767) and into second place among left-handers on Houston's all-time strikeouts list."I do the best I can," Rodriguez said. "I'm not thinking about strikeouts. I'm just trying to make a good pitch and the guy misses it."
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones (left knee) is still experiencing pain on the lower left side of his knee. The 38-year-old will know the severity of the injury after an MRI in Atlanta on Thursday. ... Braves right fielder Jason Heyward missed his second straight game because of a sore right knee. He expects to be back in the lineup Friday when the team opens a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. ... Atlanta second baseman Martin Prado (broken right pinkie) will take live batting practice on Friday. He expects to know more about when he'll return after that session.