ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves keep talking about the need
for a long winning streak instead of putting one together.
Freddy Sanchez and Jason Bay hit consecutive run-scoring singles
in the eighth inning Tuesday night, rallying the Pittsburgh Pirates
past the Braves 5-3."I thought we had the game," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.Not quite.Atlanta, which wasted a 2-1 lead, dropped 6½ games behind
Cincinnati, the NL wild card leader. Following 14 straight division
titles, the chances of making the playoffs are dwindling for the
Braves (59-66).Atlanta hasn't strung together three straight home wins since
May 15-18, when the Braves won four straight at Turner Field.The home frustrations come one year after the Braves tied for
the NL's best home record at 53-28. With Tuesday night's loss, they
are 26-32 at Turner Field, the second-worst home mark in the NL."Regardless of whether it's at home or on the road, it's a
loss, but the home thing is frustrating," Braves first baseman
Adam LaRoche said. "We've all said that. Losing at home can be a
little harder."Even with the win, the Pirates have the NL's worst road record
at 16-48. The Pirates had lost eight of their previous nine road
games."It seems like lately things are just not going our way at
home," LaRoche said. "It seems everything goes their way --
pitching, timely hitting, everything."Danys Baez (5-6) gave up one-out walks to Chris Duffy and Jack Wilson in the eighth, and Sanchez and Bay followed with consecutive
singles that put the Pirates ahead 3-2. Sanchez and Bay had been a
combined 0-for-13 in the series before their hits -- both grounders
to right field."I was looking for the ground-ball double play," Baez said.
"Those ground balls found the holes. I felt great on the mound. It
was just one of those nights. You can throw the right pitches and
the ball goes in the hole. There's nothing you can do about it."Cox said Baez was sweating so heavily the ball was wet when he
took it from the reliever."It's hard to throw the ball when it's wet," Cox said. "I
think that had something to do with it."Xavier Nady and Ronny Paulino added RBI singles for a 5-2 lead."I don't look at it as wins on the road or wins at home,"
Sanchez said. "We set ourselves up to try to win the series."Damaso Marte (1-7) earned his first win since May 24, 2005, by
recording one out in the seventh. He had lost his previous eight
decisions.Martin Prado hit an RBI single in the eighth off Matt Capps --
the rookie's third RBI in two games since his recall -- and Mike Gonzalez pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save without a blown
opportunity.Jose Bautista hit an RBI double in the fifth, but Tony Pena Jr.
tied it in the bottom half with his first major league homer in 21
at-bats. Following Pena's homer, Shawn Chacon walked the bases
loaded before Brian McCann hit into a double play.Marcus Giles, who missed his fifth straight start with a bruised
left hand, led off the seventh inning with a pinch-hit double off
John Grabow and was sacrificed to third. After an intentional walk
to Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones blooped a single for a 2-1 lead.Chacon gave up one run, three hits and five walks in five
innings, hitting two batters.Oscar Villarreal, making his second start for Atlanta after
pitching 47 games out of the bullpen, gave up one run and four hits
in five innings.
Chacon hit Ryan Langerhans and Andruw Jones with pitches in
the third and fourth innings. ... Pena's homer was Atlanta's sixth
of the season by pinch hitters.