CHICAGO -- The Atlanta Braves are trying to overcome a rash of recent injuries without losing ground in the National League East and got a big lift from catcher Brian McCann on Friday night.
McCann launched a three-run home run off Chicago White Sox starter John Danks in the sixth inning, into the Braves' bullpen, and it stood up as the difference in Atlanta's 6-4 win at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth to make it interesting, but the Braves bullpen preserved the lead and closer Craig Kimbrel picking up his 27th save by working a scoreless ninth. Tim Hudson evened his record at 7-7 by pitching 7 1/3 innings for the win, as the Braves (55-41) gained back the game they lost prior to the All-Star break to the second-place Washington Nationals.
Hudson allowed eight hits and four runs (all earned), but walked only two and threw an economical 99 pitches (65 strikes). McCann, who went 1-for-4, hit .410 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 16 games prior to the break. He kept right on rolling with his long ball in the first game back, after subbing at the All-Star Game for injured Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (jammed thumb).
The Braves started the game without Freeman and left fielder Jason Heyward (right hamstring strain) -- who both were injured in a series against Cincinnati right before the break -- but got right-fielder Justin Upton back after a left calf strain kept him out the final three games against the Reds.
Freeman also returned to action in the bottom of the eighth, when he came in as a defensive replacement. He collided with 6-foot-6, 285-pound Adam Dunn on a close play at first, but appeared to be fine afterward.
McCann's homer broke a 2-2 tie and put the Braves up by three runs in the sixth, but Chicago got to Hudson in the eighth -- scoring runs on a double by Alexei Ramirez and a single by Jeff Keppinger that scored Ramirez.
Alex Rios went 1-for-3 to lead the White Sox (37-56), including a two-run double in the third, but was replaced in right field in the seventh inning by Casper Wells. No explanation was given by the White Sox during the game. Chicago has now lost three straight and four of its last six games.
The Braves struck first on Simmons' two-run homer down the left-field line in the third inning. It drove in Chris Johnson, who had reached base on a lead-off single.
Chicago got it right back in the bottom half of the frame on three hits -- highlighted by Rios' two-run, two-out double to center that tied it at 2-2.
Danks only allowed one other hit through his first five innings of work, striking out two, while Hudson worked around seven hits and a walk in his first five frames. Hudson was aided by some nifty defensive plays by second baseman Dan Uggla in the second and Joey Terdoslavich in the third.
NOTES: The White Sox reinstated RHP Jake Peavy from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's game. They sent RHP Simon Castro to Triple-A Charlotte after their final game before the All-Star break. The 32-year-old Peavy is scheduled to start on Saturday against the Braves. He was on the DL since June 6 with a fractured rib. Peavy made just one rehab start July 14 at Double-A Birmingham and earned the win by allowing just one run on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks in five innings. ... Ventura said injured RHP Jesse Crain (shoulder soreness) didn't throw during the break and will likely need at least one outing in the minors before returning to the bullpen. .. Jordan Schafer (stress fracture, foot) is with the Braves for this series but will travel back to Atlanta to meet with a doctor when the team heads to New York to play the Mets. Schafer has is expected to return in about three weeks.