Pittsburgh handed Atlanta its first consecutive losses of the season and will look to extend the Braves' slide to three straight games Sunday at PNC Park in the finale of a four-game set.
The Pirates (9-8) have won six of eight and inched above the .500 mark for the first time this season with Saturday's 3-1 victory. Starters James McDonald and Paul Maholm were locked in a pitchers' duel until the Pirates broke through in the sixth. Maholm had surrendered two hits while throwing five shutout innings before allowing three runs, including a two-run homer to Gaby Sanchez - his first of the season. Sanchez had come in struggling, batting .174 with four hits in 12 games.
"It was a matter of our hitters sticking with the game plan," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Braves' 13-4 mark is tied with Colorado for the best in the majors, but their powerful offense has been somewhat halted of late. They were shut out in two of three prior to Saturday and the club produced just six hits in two losses to the Pirates.
Atlanta was 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position Saturday, didn't have an at-bat in such a situation in Friday's 6-0 loss and was 1 for 7 in a 6-4 win on Thursday.
The Braves only came away with one run in Friday's second inning in which they drew three walks against McDonald, who fanned two in a row to end the threat.
"It's been a couple of days where we can't get the big hit," said Chris Johnson , who is 21 for 45 (.467) over his last 11 games after starting the season 2 for 10. "We just have to focus in and get some hits with some guys on base. We'll be fine. We've proven we can score runs."
Pittsburgh starter Jonathan Sanchez (0-2, 12.96 ERA) will hope to pick up some good mojo from the rest of the starting staff, which has been dealing of late. McDonald struck out nine over six innings and Wandy Rodriguez allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings Friday. A.J. Burnett shut out St. Louis over seven innings of one-hit ball in a 5-0 win Wednesday.
Sanchez, however, was tagged for nine runs, eight hits and four walks in 3 1-3 innings in a 10-2 loss at Arizona on April 10. The left-hander's first chance for redemption was thwarted as Tuesday's game against the Cardinals was rained out after two innings.
He'll be opposed by Kris Medlen (1-1, 1.42), who has only received five runs of support in three starts. Though Atlanta won each of his last two, he wasn't credited with a victory in the Braves' 6-3 win over Kansas City on Tuesday. Medlen yielded two runs and six hits with no walks in seven frames.
Medlen is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh, while Sanchez is 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA over seven starts versus Atlanta. Sanchez's only victory over the Braves came on May 25, 2009, with San Francisco.
Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla told the team's official website he hopes to return Monday against the Rockies after leaving Saturday's game in the fourth inning with tightness in his left calf.
|April 20, 2013||Dan Uggla||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf strain|
|April 20, 2013||Blake DeWitt||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|April 16, 2013||Luis Avilan||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring injury|
|April 07, 2013||Cristhian Martinez||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|April 07, 2013||Freddie Freeman||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|April 06, 2013||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Sprained left thumb|
|April 09, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left leg strain|
|March 26, 2013||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Right scapula soreness|
|March 22, 2013||Francisco Liriano||15-Day DL||Fractured right forearm|
|March 22, 2013||Jeff Karstens||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Charlie Morton||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 20, 2013||Chase d'Arnaud||60-Day DL||Left thumb surgery|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Slumping Clint Barmes had a pair of run-scoring singles for his first two RBIs of the season, including a tiebreaking hit in the sixth inning that led the Pittsburgh Pirates over Atlanta 4-2 Sunday for their third straight win over the Braves.
Barmes began the day with an .093 batting average and was in an 0-for-14 slide.
Atlanta led 2-0 in the second when Pedro Alvarez singled and scored on Russell Martin 's double, and Barmes followed with a tying single.
Then in the sixth, Neil Walker singled leading off against Kris Medlen (1-2), advanced to third on Alvarez's flyout and Martin's groundout, and scored on Barmes' single to shortstop. Andrelton Simmons gloved the ball near second but couldn't get the throw to first in time as Barmes raised his average to .130 with a 2-for-3 day.
Luis Avilan threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the seventh.
Atlanta has lost four of five following a 12-1 start and Medlen lost for first time in 29 regular-season start in which he was given a lead. He allowed three runs and six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and one walk.
Justin Wilson (1-0) got his first major league win by giving up one hit in 1 2-3 scoreless innings. He entered with the score tied in the seventh and induced an inning-ending double-play grounder from B.J. Upton.
Jason Grilli walked his first batter in the ninth, then struck out three in a row. Grilli entered the season with five saves and is seven for seven in chances this year.
Pirates starter Jonathan Sanchez needed 74 pitches to get through three innings and allowed two runs and four hits, lowering his ERA to 11.12 from 12.96.
After going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the first three games of the series, Atlanta went ahead in the second on consecutive singles by Chris Johnson , Reed Johnson , Gerald Laird and Simmons.
NOTES: Atlanta 2B Dan Uggla (strained left calf) missed the game after being injured Saturday night but hopes to f play Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Colorado. ... Braves 1B Freddie Freeman (strained right oblique) is expected to be activated from the DL Monday after a three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (elbow surgery) is to make his next rehab start for Double-A Altoona on Tuesday and LHP Francisco Liriano (broken bone in right upper arm) for Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. ... LHP Mike Minor (2-1, 0.95) is scheduled to pitch for Atlanta on Monday against LHP Jeff Francis (1-1, 8.25). ... The Pirates open a four-game series at Philadelphia on Monday night with RHP A.J. Burnett (1-2, 2.63) facing RHP Tyler Cloyd , who will be called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.