HRs by Gattis, Johnson lift Braves past Angels 4-3
ATLANTA (AP) — Manager Fredi Gonzalez saw no reason he shouldn’t let Evan Gattis swing with a 3-0 count in the first inning.
One big swing from Gattis showed why he deserved that vote of confidence.
Gattis hit a three-run homer and Chris Johnson followed with another long ball in the first, and the Braves edged the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 on Friday night for their first interleague win.
The Braves were 0-6 against American League teams before taking advantage of four runs in the first on the two homers off C.J. Wilson (7-6), including a three-run shot by Gattis.
There were two outs and two runners on when Gattis faced the 3-0 count against Wilson.
Gonzalez relayed the green light.
“The way he’s swinging the bat, why not?” Gonzalez asked.
Asked what pitch he was looking for, Gattis said “A pitch to handle.” He said it didn’t have to be in a certain location and added Wilson delivered “a decent pitch” on the inside to middle of the plate.
Wilson didn’t like the pitch.
“That pitch just didn’t move at all,” Wilson said. “It was right down the middle. Obviously the guy’s got great power and he’s on a tear right now.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wilson, who had a hit batter and a walk before the homer, was hurt by his poor control in the inning.
“He almost worked his way out of it but C.J. just was behind in too many counts and it eventually caught up with him,” Scioscia said.
Wilson was in control after the ugly first inning. He gave up only three hits in five scoreless innings after the first.
The homer over the left-field wall was the 14th for Gattis, leaving him tied for third place in the National League. He had two hits, giving him a 13-game hitting streak, Atlanta’s longest this season.
Aaron Harang (5-5) allowed one run in six innings to end a streak of five consecutive starts without a win.
Braves right fielder Jason Heyward left the game with a bruised right hand after being hit by a pitch from Wilson in the first inning. The Braves said X-rays were negative and Heyward is day to day.
After being hit on the top of his hand leading off the first inning, Heyward remained in the game and scored on the homer by Gattis. He remained in the game on defense in the second before leaving in the bottom of the inning as Jordan Schafer was used as a pinch-hitter.
“It gradually felt worse,” Heyward said, adding he’s relieved he didn’t have a broken bone.
The Angels trailed 4-1 before Albert Pujols had a two-run single off Shae Simmons in the eighth. Craig Kimbrel struck out Raul Ibanez to cap a perfect ninth inning for his 19th save.
Harang, 36, earned his first win in eight career starts against the Angels. He was 0-4 with a 10.48 ERA in four 2013 starts for Seattle against the Angels.
Harang gave up four hits and three walks with two strikeouts.
The homer by Gattis drove in Heyward and Freddie Freeman, who walked. Johnson followed with his homer over the center field wall for a 4-0 lead.
Wilson had allowed only one homer in his last five starts before allowing the back-to-back shots.
The Angels scored in the third when Hank Conger hit a leadoff double before moving to third and then scoring on two wild pitches from Harang.
Braves center fielder B.J. Upton dropped Kyle Calhoun’s liner for an error, helped Los Angeles in the eighth. Upton caught up to the ball but couldn’t hold on when trying for a basket catch at his waist.
Mike Trout’s bloop double left runners on second and third with one out. Pujols, who has hit .347 in his career against the Braves, then punched a two-run single past second baseman Tommy La Stella.
Simmons struck out Howie Kendrick and ended the inning on Erick Aybar’s grounder to first base.
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons left his feet to make a diving catch of a sharply hit grounder by Josh Hamilton in the sixth. Simmons bounced up to throw out Hamilton in a close play at first base.
“That is probably one of the best plays I’ve seen in a long time,” Harang said.
NOTES: Scioscia said LHP Tyler Skaggs (right hamstring) could return from the 15-day DL next weekend. ... Andrelton Simmons, who is from Curacao, sprinted through the clubhouse screaming “Goooaaaalll!” before the game when The Netherlands scored the go-ahead goal in their 5-1 World Cup victory over Spain. ... C Gerald Laird said his right jaw was sore after being hit by Corey Dickerson’s bat in Thursday’s game at Colorado, but he has passed a concussion test and was available off the bench. ... OF Justin Upton (sore left hamstring) was 0-for-4 after missing Thursday’s game. ... Atlanta’s Gavin Floyd will face Garrett Richards in a matchup of right-handers on Saturday night.