ATLANTA -- Erik Bedard finally had a chance to show the Pirates what he can do if given a few runs.
He's hoping it won't be such a rare sight.Streaking Alex Presley helped the Pirates finally provide Bedard some support and Pittsburgh beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 on Saturday night.The Pirates scored a total of two runs with Bedard on the mound in his first four starts -- the majors' lowest run support for a pitcher. They topped that by taking a 3-0 lead in the first two innings."It feels good," Bedard said after his first win with the Pirates. "When you can get up early, it helped out."Hopefully it keeps coming," he said.Bedard (1-4) gave up only one run in five innings. The left-hander struck out nine while giving up five hits and two walks. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his five starts.It wasn't easy. Bedard needed 96 pitches to make it through five innings."The nine strikeouts were big," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "He needed every one of them. It was a very blue-collar effort for Erik. That was probably the most he's had to grind in all of the five starts as far as throwing close to 100 pitches in five innings."Presley had two hits to extend his career-best hitting streak to 12 games. He scored two runs and drove in a run with a double. Pedro Alvarez also had a run-scoring double.The Pirates have been held to one run in each of their last five losses, including a 6-1 loss to the Braves on Friday night. They are 9-2 when scoring more than one run and 6-0 when scoring at least four runs."That's been the biggest thing for us, trying to get the timely hits," Alvarez said."Hopefully we can keep going. Whatever is given to us, take advantage of that."Jason Grilli struck out the side in the eighth and Joel Hanrahan added two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his fourth save. The game ended when right fielder Jose Tabata made a leaping catch at the wall of pinch-hitter Eric Hinske's drive.Presley led off the game with a single and scored from third on Garrett Jones' flyball to center field. Presley's second-inning double into the left field corner drove in Rod Barajas, who singled. Tabata's single to right drove in Presley for a 3-0 lead.Martin Prado doubled in the third inning and scored on Dan Uggla's two-out single for the Braves' first run.The Pirates knocked Randall Delgado (2-2) out of the game in the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Neil Walker and Alvarez, pushing the lead to 4-1.Bedard struck out Freddie Freeman and Uggla with runners on second and third to end the fifth.The Braves scored a run off Chris Resop in the sixth when Jason Heyward doubled, stole third and scored on Juan Francisco's grounder to first. Heyward has eight steals.After Tyler Pastornicky singled and advanced to third when the ball skipped past Tabata for an error, pinch-hitter Chipper Jones ended the inning with a grounder to second base.Delgado gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings, leaving his ERA at 6.30. He has allowed a combined nine runs in his last two starts, both losses, after winning his first two starts."We're trying to keep running him out there, trying to get him through some stuff," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "He just couldn't get it going today. Couldn't get his breaking pitches over."The little that I know him from last year and this year, he's going to be OK," Gonzalez added. "He's going to use these last two outings as experience and keep going forward."Braves catcher Brian McCann, who left Friday night's game with a strained muscle in his right side, did not play. He said he felt better Saturday and hopes to play on Monday. Outfielder Matt Diaz was to be the emergency backup catcher to fill-in starter David Ross.
Jones appeared in his 2,400th major league game, second on the Braves franchise list behind Hank Aaron (3,076). ... Bedard's 0.75 average run support per game before Saturday was the lowest in the major leagues. ... In a pregame ceremony, McCann (Silver Slugger award) and RHP Craig Kimbrel (NL Rookie of the Year and Braves player of the year by the Atlanta chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America) received 2011 awards. ... Braves RHP Tim Hudson will make his season debut on Sunday as he faces the Pirates' RHP Kevin Correia. Hudson is returning from offseason back surgery after making four rehab starts. "Better late than never," Hudson said Saturday. He was 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA in 2011. The Braves announced after the game right-hander Cory Gearrin will be optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to clear a spot for Hudson.