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Gonzalez blows save


Gonzalez blows save
Arizona was just the kind of opponent the Braves needed to welcome them home Friday night.

The Diamondbacks and their dormant offense, their brand new manager and a last-place ranking in the National League West were just the cushion the Braves needed to ease back into a 10-game homestand.

There wasn't much easy about Friday's 4-3 win, but the Braves beat Arizona by bringing to life a dormant offense of their own.

After Arizona had tied the score 3-3 in the top of the ninth inning, rookie Jordan Schafer started a rally in the bottom of the ninth with a one-out single, only his third hit in 21 at-bats. He was followed by a walk by Kelly Johnson, a single by Omar Infante, and Schafer then scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Yunel Escobar.

"I've had enough bad at-bats the last couple of weeks," said Schafer, who put a rare good swing on a 95 mph fastball. "I was just trying to have a good at-bat."

Schafer, who had driven in his first run in nearly six weeks earlier in the game, crossed the plate standing up to bring the Braves only their third win in their past 12 home games.

He also put an end to the kidding from his teammates.

"They were about to start a pool for when my next RBI would be," said Schafer, who beat out a double-play grounder to plate a run in the second inning, his first since April 8. "The 3-1 pitch I saw, I knew the guy was on third, I was swinging, even though the ball was over my head."

Manager Bobby Cox said Schafer should sleep soundly Friday night. The might not be the case for closer Mike Gonzalez, who blew a chance to save the game in the top of the inning after he hung a breaking ball to Stephen Drew. It disappeared over the right-field wall to tie the game 3-3.

It was the second blown save in the past three games for Gonzalez. But Friday his teammates picked him up, which was a good sign for a team looking for momentum at home.

After a 6-2 road trip, Chipper Jones had publicly called for his teammates to step up their intensity at home, and he repeated that message in a pregame meeting Friday. He did his part by hitting a solo home run to put the Braves up 3-2 in the third inning. And he liked what he saw in some clutch ninth-inning at-bats.

"As we've done for the past week to 10 days, we've been resilient and came right back and got a W," Jones said. "Hopefully it's something to build on. We started it on the road we want to keep it going. If you can't keep the home-field advantage, then it's going to be a long year.

"We've got to win ball games here. We've had opportunities to. We had every opportunity to tuck our tails after the top of the ninth and lose this one again, but we didn't."

The Diamondbacks scored two runs on the first four pitches from Javier Vazquez, but he settled down to go scoreless the rest of the way. He finished with 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

Vazquez was late out of the dugout following a nine-minute weather delay but said the wait didn't affect him, just a first-pitch fastball down the middle to Felipe Lopez and a hanging curveball for a triple to Gerardo Parra.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 16, 2009

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