9th Inning Grand Slam Foils Nationals
ATLANTA (AP) _ Jeff Francoeur hit a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, rallying the Atlanta Braves to a stunning 8-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
The Braves trailed 5-3 heading to their final at-bat, and the Nationals summoned Chad Cordero from the bullpen to finish it off.
But the closer gave up three hits on his first three pitches: a leadoff homer by Brian McCann, followed by sharp singles from Ryan Langerhans and Marcus Giles.
Edgar Renteria, Atlanta’s leading hitter, attempted to bunt the runners over but Cordero managed to get a force on Langerhans at third. After Chipper Jones loaded the bases with an infield single, Cordero (1-1) had a chance to get out of the mess when he got a called third strike on Andruw Jones.
But Francoeur, who had already extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a run-scoring double in the first, drove a 1-0 pitch deep into the left-field stands. The youngster threw his right arm in the air as soon as he dropped his bat, smiling at his teammates in the dugout as he trotted down the first-base line.
Chris Reitsma (1-1) earned the win with a scoreless ninth. The Braves won for the fifth time in six games and remained six games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.
Alfonso Soriano hit two-run homer and Matt LeCroy added a solo shot for the Nationals, who were on verge of handing Jorge Sosa his sixth straight loss.
The Braves jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning, but Sosa couldn’t hold the lead. Jose Guillen had a sacrifice fly in the third, and LeCroy led off the fourth with just his second homer of the season.
Atlanta went back on top with Todd Pratt’s first homer of the season in the fifth, and Sosa appeared to be in good shape when he retired the first two hitters in the sixth. But Royce Clayton doubled to right, and pitcher Mike O’Connor slapped a single to left for his first career hit and RBI.
Sosa got two quick strikes on Soriano, then left the next pitch up _ a familiar problem all season. Soriano drove it over the center field wall for his 11th homer.
That was it for Sosa, who has already given up eight homers in just 29 innings. A year ago, he surrendered 12 homers in 134 innings.
O’Connor was lifted after he gave up a leadoff single to Andruw Jones in the sixth. Jon Rauch got out of the inning, and Gary Majewski escaped a major jam in the seventh when Jones flied out with the bases loaded.
Notes: Chipper Jones has a 12-game hitting streak. ... Francoeur’s hitting streak equals the longest of his young career. ... Washington C Brian Schneider went on the disabled list for the first time in his pro career. He’s out for at least 15 days with a strained left hamstring. ... 1B Robert Fick, who was called up from an injury rehab assignment at Triple-A New Orleans, arrived at Turner Field during the game and was in uniform. ... Braves LHP Horacio Ramirez pitched 4 2-3 innings during a rehab start at Class A Rome. He gave up five hits, walked one and was charged with two earned runs. ... Pratt hit his first homer since Aug. 6, 2005, when he played for Philadelphia.