Braves ride Lowe, Escobar past Pirates

ATLANTA -- Yunel Escobar struck out his first time up, though he wasn't sure it was the right call. He made sure there were no more disputes the rest of the way.

Escobar had three hits, setting up Atlanta's first two runs and completing a comeback with a two-run single in the seventh, as the Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on Tuesday night.

Derek Lowe pitched seven solid innings for Atlanta, which overcame a 3-1 deficit to win its third straight, matching a season high.

"This is a win we should be proud of," Lowe said. "This was one of those stick-to-it wins. We never gave up. We gave ourselves a chance to win."

Escobar played a big part.

He singled in the third to keep the inning going, and Chipper Jones followed with a run-scoring hit. Escobar led off the sixth with another single and wound up scoring on Brian McCann's hit, cutting Pittsburgh's lead to 3-2. Finally, the shortstop came through with the biggest hit of all in the seventh.

Matt Diaz started the rally with a single off Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf, who was replaced by Sean Burnett (1-2). The lefty gave up a bunt single to Kelly Johnson, and Gregor Blanco nearly beat out another bunt that moved the runners to second and third.

After Nate McLouth walked to load the bases, Pittsburgh called on right-hander Jesse Chavez to face Escobar. He lined the very first pitch -- a high fastball -- to left for a single that brought home the tying and go-ahead runs without a throw.

"I was just trying to get the guy in from third," Escobar said through a translator. "I got the other run in, too. That was a bonus."

Escobar briefly argued after his strikeout, a checked swing that home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth ruled had been tipped into the catcher's glove. Good thing for the Braves that he didn't complain more -- and risk getting thrown out.

"Stuff happens in a game," Escobar said. "I have not actually seen the replay, but I thought it was a checked swing. I did not feel I touched the ball."

Lowe (7-3) allowed seven hits, walked one and wound up snapping a personal two-game losing streak, after being lifted for the pinch-hitter Blanco. The 36-year-old right-hander improved to 7-0 in his career against the Pirates and gave the Braves just what they needed after eight pitchers were used in a 15-inning marathon the previous night.

"I knew I was going to be out there a while," Lowe said. "whether it was good, bad or indifferent."

Ohlendorf, facing the Braves for the first time in his young career, also had a solid game. He went six-plus innings, giving up eight hits and three runs.

Mike Gonzalez worked a 1-2-3 eighth, though he benefited from what appeared to be a blown call by first-base umpire Doug Eddings. Delwyn Young hit a grounder off the glove of Jones, the ball deflecting toward Escobar at shortstop. He grabbed it barehanded, made a strong throw to first and Young was called out even though the TV replays showed he was on the bag when the ball arrived.

Young and coach Perry Hill both argued the call, and Hill was ejected by Eddings before manager John Russell could make it from the dugout. Bench coach Gary Varsho finished up at first base for the Pirates.

Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for fifth save in six tries, working around a two-out error by Jones that put the potential tying run on second.

"It was a great game," Russell said. "We were right in it. We just didn't pull it out."

Game notes
Atlanta's Greg Norton played in the field for the first time this season, starting at first base. His first 43 plate appearances this season had come as a pinch-hitter. ... Ohlendorf has lasted at least six innings in eight of his 12 starts. ... Lowe has gotten only 13 runs of offensive support in his last five starts. ... Slumping Jeff Francoeur didn't start for the Braves, but he did come out to play right field in the ninth.