Furcal's two homers power Braves past Pirates
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The
received an unlikely power boost from
Furcal homered from both sides of the plate in consecutive at-bats, lifting the Braves to their season-high sixth straight win, a 5-4 victory over the
pitched eight effective innings for Atlanta, which matched its longest run from July 3-8. The Braves went 18-8 in July and climbed into first place in the National League East Division as they track their 14th consecutive crown.
Although Furcal has reached the mid-teens in homers in each of the last two seasons, the 5-10 switch hitter is not considered a power hitter by any means. However, he led off the fifth inning with his eighth homer off Pirates righthander
, pulling the Braves into a 3-3 tie.
to open the seventh, Furcal belted the first pitch into the seats in left-center field for his fourth career multi-homer game.
"It's a good day for me," Furcal said. "It's one of my better games this year. I'm glad we're winning. If we're winning, I'm happy."
"(The pitch) was supposed to be down and away," Grabow said. "I got it up. It wasn't my day and I didn't do my job."
Furcal also homered from both sides of the plate at Philadelphia on April 15.
"He's turned into our
all of a sudden," Braves manager
said. "It doesn't shock me that a little guy can get that power."
"He's got his confidence back," added Braves second baseman
, who scored twice. "When he gets hot, he kind of reminds me of Andruw a little bit."
After Furcal's second homer,
doubled and eventually scored on
's single. That was enough for Smoltz (12-5), who lasted at least eight innings for the eighth time in his last 11 starts.
Smoltz gave up three runs - all in the fourth inning - and eight hits, walking two and striking out four. The former Cy Young Award winner went 4-0 in July.
"In the fourth, when you get two outs and they get those two bloop hits, it's frustrating you give up a few hits like that," Smoltz said. "I'm old enough to realize I can get through that and keep it there."
allowed a run and two hits in the ninth but struck out
to end it for his 14th save.
"You have to give Reitsma credit," Pirates manager
said. "He made a great pitch to strike (Lawton) out."
After the game, the Braves deepened their bullpen by acquiring closer
from Detroit for righthander
and minor league pitcher Zach Miner.
"We felt like where we are and with the needs of our club, we needed to add a guy like (Farnsworth)," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "He was the best (available) bullpen guy in the industry, according to our scouts."
Lawton also was dealt, going to the
The tandem of Furcal and Giles scored all of Atlanta's runs. In the first, they opened with singles,
plated Furcal with a single and
laced a sacrifice fly.
"It's important that me and Furcal get on base and score runs," Giles said.
Fogg gave up three runs, 11 hits and two walks in six innings, striking out one. He also had an RBI single that gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.