Edgar Renteria hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and the Atlanta Braves turned Horacio Ramirez’s effective start into a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.
Matt Diaz hit his first home run since May 16 to support Ramirez, who didn’t get the victory despite limiting the Pirates to two runs over 6 2-3 innings and matching Paul Maholm’s strong start for the Pirates.
Maholm has won only two of his last 14 starts, but held the Braves to two runs and five hits over seven innings. He has lasted seven innings in each of his last two starts after doing so only once in his previous nine.
Tyler Yates (1-1) got his first victory with the Braves by getting the final out in the seventh, though he did allow Jack Wilson’s RBI single that briefly tied it at 2.
Salomon Torres (3-5) took the loss for the Pirates, who have dropped their last two since winning five in a row.
Willy Aybar started the eighth with a drive into the gap in left-center that left fielder Jason Bay dropped after sprinting far to his left. Aybar was initially given a double but the call was later changed to an error.
Marcus Giles followed with a bunt single to the left of the pitcher’s mound that Torres couldn’t handle, and Renteria hit his sacrifice fly.
After Danys Baez pitched a scoreless eighth, Bob Wickman finished up for his 19th save in 22 chances and his fourth in as many opportunities since being traded by the Indians to the Braves.
Diaz put the Braves ahead 2-1 by leading off the seventh with his third homer of the season, a drive that barely reached the first row of seats in left field. The homer was his first since a shot off the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis on May 16.
The Braves won despite being forced to pull first baseman Adam LaRoche with a strained right hamstring after he doubled and scored on Todd Pratt’s double in the fifth. LaRoche apparently was injured while running the bases and is listed as day to day.
LaRoche homered twice in Atlanta’s 4-2 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday and has nine homers in 17 games since the All-Star break.
The Pirates threatened in the sixth but Ramirez got Jose Bautista to pop up on the first pitch he saw with two outs and the bases loaded. NL batting leader Freddy Sanchez had singled for his second hit of the game before Bay and Xavier Nady walked.
Notes: The Braves have won two in a row since dropping five of six, including a three-game weekend sweep at home by the Mets. … Pirates starters have pitched into the seventh in six of their last seven games. … Yates had two wins with the Mets in 2004.