ATLANTA (AP)—Frustrated lately with his lack of production, Johnny Estrada had the perfect situation to help get him back on track.
“Bases loaded, no outs, there’s no excuse for not getting the job done,” Estrada said. “I needed to drive that run in, bottom line.”
Eli Marrero reached on an error by shortstop Jack Wilson to open the 10th, and Marcus Giles walked. Rafael Furcal bunted perfectly down the third-base line for a hit, leaving catcher Jason Kendall with no play.
“When you walk guys, it really hurts,” Torres said.
Estrada, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, followed with a long fly to left to bring in Marrero. Estrada still leads the majors with a .434 average with runners in scoring position, but he finished 3-for-22 overall on an eight-game homestand.
“Every time I get up, regardless of the position I’m in, I expect myself to have a good at-bat,” Estrada said. “I don’t think I’ve been doing that lately. I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities lately and I haven’t been coming through.”
Chris Reitsma (4-2) pitched a scoreless 10th for the win.
The Braves rebounded from a 4-3 loss a night earlier and moved back into a first-place tie with the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. The Phillies lost to Florida 10-8 Thursday.
Atlanta starter Russ Ortiz pitched eight strong innings but missed out on a chance to win his sixth straight start. He allowed one run on six hits and pitched around four walks.
As good as Ortiz was, counterpart Kip Wells might have been better. He gave up one run on four hits in eight innings, and retired 11 of 12 batters at one point. Wells struck out four and had no walks.
“We went out knowing we had our work cut out for us, the way Ortiz had been pitching,” Wells said. “We did what we were supposed to, but we still lost the game.”
Tike Redman finished 3-for-5 for the Pirates, who lost for only the second time in seven games.
Pittsburgh nearly took the lead against Atlanta closer John Smoltz in the ninth. Jason Bay led off with a walk, then moved to second on a sacrifice. Kendall was intentionally walked, and Wilson singled sharply to center.
But third base coach John Russell stopped Bay to leave the bases loaded, and Randall Simon, the third straight pinch-hitter, grounded into a double play to end the threat.
The Braves turned three double plays to spoil Pittsburgh rallies.
“Luck, it happens,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Giles, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and then stayed in to play second, made a nice backhanded stop on a short hop, then tossed the ball to Furcal to start the double play.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the third when Redman doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Abraham Nunez. Atlanta left fielder Charles Thomas appeared to have a chance to throw out Redman at the plate, but his throw sailed well over the head of catcher Eddie Perez.
In the bottom half, the Braves tied it on a sacrifice fly to right by Furcal. He brought in Perez, who narrowly beat the throw by Rob Mackowiak.
“Ortiz and Wells, you can’t get too much better than either of those guys pitched,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “And it was a day where the ball was going to fly out of here if you touched it. It’s amazing that balls didn’t go out of the ballpark.”
Pirates C J.R. House made the first start of his major league career and finished 0-for-3. … Atlanta RF J.D. Drew singled in the first and extended his career-long hitting streak to 19 games. … Pittsburgh 2B Jose Castillo went 0-for-3 and is 3-for-31 since hitting a homer off Florida’s Josh Beckett on July 5. … Smoltz had two walks in an appearance for the first time since Aug. 16, 2002, against Colorado.