Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Atlanta leads 1-0 (as of 8/18)

Game 1: Monday, August 18
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Pittsburgh3
Game 2: Tuesday, August 19
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Pittsburgh3
Game 3: Wednesday, August 20
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Pittsburgh3

Braves 7

(65-60, 28-32 away)

Pirates 3

(64-61, 39-25 home)

    Coverage:  ROOT

    7:05 PM ET, August 18, 2014

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

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    PIT 011100000 3 9 2

    W: E. Santana (13-6)

    L: V. Worley (5-3)

    Braves use 6-run 1st to beat Pirates 7-3

    Associated Press

    PITTSBURGH -- Ervin Santana said "everything" was off when he took the mound Monday.

    No matter. His Atlanta Braves teammates gave him a six-run lead before he threw a pitch.

    Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons homered to begin a big first inning, and the Braves beat the sliding Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 on Monday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

    The early outburst was enough for Santana, who allowed three solo homers among nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.

    "I know I didn't have my stuff today, but for me it was one of my best games because I gave up three runs," said Santana (13-6), who improved to 8-1 over his past 10 starts. "Anytime you give up three runs or less, it's a good outing. So I'll take it".

    Pittsburgh has lost six in a row. Starling Marte went deep twice, and Neil Walker added a homer that became the first to reach the Allegheny River beyond right field at PNC Park this season.

    Relievers Luis Avilan, David Hale and James Russell combined for 3 2/3 hitless innings for Atlanta, which broke a tie with Pittsburgh for third place in the National League wild-card standings.

    "We went through these tough stretches in April and early May and we've played really good baseball up until this last week," Pirates second baseman Neil Walker said. "We're still the same team."

    Heyward and Simmons started the game with the Braves' fifth set of back-to-back home runs this season, and it got worse from there for Vance Worley (5-3). Chris Johnson and Gerald Laird had run-scoring singles as Atlanta bolted to a 6-0 lead.

    "I know we didn't score a whole lot the rest of the way," said Heyward, who had had three hits and a sacrifice fly. "But still, that's a lot of pressure for a team to come back against."

    Worley managed to pitch six innings and was charged with five earned runs. He allowed nine hits, struck out four and walked two.

    "After (the first inning), I figured it out," Worley said. "It clicked, I was able to drive the ball down in the zone and get the results that I needed."

    TRAINER'S ROOM

    Braves: During a rehabilitation outing for Triple-A Gwinnett, RHP Shae Simmons (right shoulder strain) did not record an out and was charged with four runs. He walked two and allowed two hits while throwing 21 pitches.

    Pirates: After taking live batting practice prior to the game, OF Andrew McCutchen (left rib fracture) said he expects to come off the DL on Tuesday. ... SS Jordy Mercer (right forearm tightness) was not in the lineup for the fourth consecutive game.

    A FIRST AT FIRST

    The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez started at first base in his first career appearance at any spot other than third. Alvarez, whose 25 errors lead the majors, had seven put-outs. His first chance was an errant throw by second baseman Neil Walker that led to two runs being scored.

    LATE ARRIVAL

    Because the Braves did not get into Pittsburgh until 3 a.m. Monday morning, manager Fredi Gonzalez elected to rest regulars B.J. Upton and Evan Gattis.

    BACK-TO-BACK BEGINNING

    Heyward's homer was his third of the season to lead off a game and sixth of his career. According to STATS, Monday was the fifth time the Braves began a game with consecutive home runs.

    UP NEXT

    Braves: Tuesday starter RHP Aaron Harang (9-7, 3.51 ERA) has 15 career wins against the Pirates.

    Pirates: Despite having a 2.36 ERA over 42 innings in seven starts since coming off the DL, LHP Francisco Liriano (3-9, 3.78 ERA) has lost three of five decisions. He's lost his past two outings.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Game Information

    StadiumPNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
    Attendance31,669 (82.6% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time3:00
    Weather81 degrees, partly cloudy
    Wind6 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Angel Hernandez, First Base - Vic Carapazza, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Larry Vanover

    Research Notes

    From Elias: FROM ELIAS: Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons hit back to back HR to open game for Braves. It is the 4th time this season that a team had players open a game with back-to-back HR-- other 3 teams to do it were the Rockies against the Reds (players: Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson), Phillies against the Reds (Jimmy Rollins and Wil Nieves), and the Twins against the Blue Jays (Danny Santana and Brian Dozier). The last time the Braves hit consecutive HR to begin game-- May 14, 2011 against the Phillies- Martin Prado and Nate McLouth
    From Elias: The Braves got home runs from their first 2 hitters of the game in Pittsburgh... The last time the Braves got a HR from their first 2 hitters of a road game (i.e. the first 2 hitters of the game) was August 6, 1937, when Roy C. Johnson and Rabbit Warstler led off with home runs for the Boston Bees in a game at Wrigley Field.
    Ervin Santana throws sliders 34.6 percent of the time, which is the fourth most among qualified starters this year. Travis Snider has a .333 ISO in at-bats that end in a slider this year (.144 ISO against all other pitch types), which would rank him second among all qualified hitters.
    Ervin Santana takes the mound for the Braves tonight as they travel to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates. Santana is one of 3 pitchers with 5 wins since the All Star Break. (Johnny Cueto and Wily Peralta) Since the break, Santana has won 5 of his 6 starts and has a 2.70 ERA and a WHIP of 1.23.
      [+]
    The Atlanta Braves beat the Pirates on Monday night in Pittsburgh 7-3. It was their first road win since July 13. It was also their first road win of the second half.

    ESPN Stats & Information