Ross, Chipper propel Braves to fifth straight win

Ross, Chipper propel Braves to fifth straight win

Ross, Chipper propel Braves to fifth straight win
ATLANTA -- There are nights in every season when a team shows it's on the verge of doing something special.

A night when you win despite your ace being better known for his hitting.

A night when one of your hottest hitters isn't even in the ballpark -- although no one could blame Brian McCann for where he was.

A night when the one player you can't afford to lose, starting shortstop Jack Wilson, gets hurt in the fourth inning on a fluke play chasing down a ground ball.

Did we mention it was Friday the 13th?

"It was a good day," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "We were able to get a win with a minimal bench after the freak play on Jack. A good win for us."

David Ross drove in a season-high four runs with a three-run homer and a bases-loaded walk, and Chipper Jones added a solo homer as the Braves held off the Mets, 7-5, on Friday night at Turner Field.

In both teams' second-half openers, the Braves drew 11 walks, one more than their hit total, in winning their fifth straight game and their third in four games against New York at Turner Field. They moved a game and a half ahead of the Mets in the race for the final National League Wild Card spot.

It was a weird game that saw a 16-minute delay due to a power outage in the second inning then nearly saw Atlanta relinquish a 5-0 lead.

"Man, that's why I love this team so much," said Ross, who is hitting .375 (9-for-24) during his seven-game hitting streak and extended the team's streak of games with a home run by a catcher to five. "Guys just pick each other up."

Ross, who got the start with McCann on paternity leave, drew a bases-loaded walk in the first to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead, then blasted his fourth homer of the season in the third, a three-run shot down the line in left, to extend the lead to 5-0. The four RBIs matched the most he's had with the Braves and were one short of his career high, last achieved on June 22, 2007, as a member of the Reds.

Jones continued to punish the Mets, ripping a double in the three-run third, capped by Ross' homer, then blasting his seventh homer of the season in the sixth. The double extended his hitting streak to 14 games, while his homer gave him 1,595 career RBIs, tying Mike Schmidt for second-most RBIs by a third baseman. He is one behind all-time leader George Brett.

But the hero of the game was winning pitcher Cristhian Martinez (4-1).

Martinez relieved starter Tim Hudson in the fifth with first and second and Atlanta holding a 5-4 lead. He walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, then struck out Scott Hairston, one of three Mets with two hits, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had two RBIs, and retired catcher Josh Thole on a fly ball to center fielder Michael Bourn.

"The game ball goes to Cristhian Martinez for getting out of that bases loaded, nobody out in a 5-4 game and buying us some more time until we scored some more runs and put the game on ice," said Jones, whose homer helped put the game on ice.

"It was a good job by him," Ross said. "We were just trying to do damage control at that point. He actually did a little better than that."

Hudson, who allowed two hits over the first three innings, lasted only two batters into the fifth. He allowed four runs (all earned) on eight hits, striking out three and walking two in his shortest outing of the year.

"I just didn't make very good pitches," he said. "I was a little out of sorts out there. I made some pretty good pitches at times, but especially when I was ahead in the count with some guys, I left some pitches over the plate and they got some base hits. It seemed like when I did make a couple of decent pitches, they put a good swing on it."

The Mets' Chris Young (2-3) took the loss, dropping his second straight decision. Young lasted only three innings, his shortest start of the year, and allowed five runs (all earned) on six hits. He struck out two and walked three.

Mets pitching was extremely generous, as Young matched his season high with three walks, all of them coming in a four-batter span in the first, while Miguel Batista, who relieved Young, walked four more. But Braves hitters hardly took advantage, going 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position, 0-for-4 with a walk with the bases loaded and stranding 12 runners.

The win may prove costly for Atlanta, as Wilson, starting due to a broken pinky suffered on Sunday by rookie Andrelton Simmons, had to leave in the fourth with a dislocated middle joint on his right pinky.

"Worst-case scenario happened today," Gonzalez said. "But he's day to day and we got through it."

That was thanks to Martin Prado, who took over at short for Wilson, while Eric Hinske manned left.

"We got in a situation today where the team needed me," Prado said. "I feel good that I can help the team in many ways."

On Saturday, the Braves face the Majors' leading winner, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, but will have a healthy body for depth at shortstop, a rejuvenated McCann, who'll unveil his new-found "dad strength," as Ross called it, and a cast of 25 all eligible to be hero for the day.

"Hopefully we've got a nice little roll going here," Gonzalez said, "and Tommy [Hanson] going [Saturday] can get us deep into the game and we have a chance to win another ballgame."

Jon Cooper is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.