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Braves bust out of slump at plate

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- After the Braves dropped consecutive 2-0 decisions to the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez thought it was only a matter of time until his team started swinging the bats again.

He didn't have to wait long.

The Braves hit three home runs, including a first-inning grand slam by Brian McCann, and finished with 14 hits in a 7-4 victory over the Brewers on Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.

"That was a big lift for us," Gonzalez said. "They say hitting is contagious, so I hope it is for a couple of our guys."

Atlanta had gone 24 innings without a run and was shut out in each of its past two games but had little difficulty springing to life against Milwaukee starter Alfredo Figaro.

The Braves opened the game with back-to-back singles by Jordan Schafer and Andrelton Simmons and loaded the bases with a one-out walk to Freddie Freeman.

Figaro then fell behind 2-1 to McCann, who took a fastball to the opposite field for his eighth home run of the season, clearing the bases and giving the Braves a 4-0 lead.

"It was big for me because I usually don't hit the ball out that way," McCann said. "I put a good swing on it and it got up in the air."

Chris Johnson opened the second with a home run to right and Atlanta took a 6-0 lead on another top-of-the inning homer, this time by Schafer to start the fourth.

Simmons nearly added another home run, but his shot to straight-away center was hauled in at the wall by the Brewers' Carlos Gomez.

Gomez suffered a sprained left shoulder on the play and was forced to leave the game. X-rays revealed no structural damage and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke didn't expect Gomez to end up on the disabled list.

"Hopefully, it's not going to be too bad," Roenicke said. "It could be a couple days, it could be a week. We'll know more when they look at him again tomorrow."

Gomez didn't think he would need an MRI and said his knee, where had been hit with a pitch earlier, actually hurt more than the shoulder.

"I felt my shoulder pop out and come back," Gomez said. "The doctors said they don't think it is necessary because everything is in place. I don't think it's anything serious. I think in a few days I'll be fine, but I'll probably be sore tomorrow."

Figaro (1-2) never did find a rhythm. In 3 1/3 innings, he was charged with six runs, nine hits and three walks while striking out four. In 54 innings this season, Figaro has allowed 13 home runs.

"He's not staying down with his pitches," Roenicke said. "When he's not throwing a lot of off-speed pitches or enough to get them off the fastball, they know they only have one pitch to look for and if he makes a mistake, they're going to hit it well."

Milwaukee's bullpen prevented any further damage, but the Brewers couldn't muster enough offense against Atlanta starter Paul Maholm to get back in it.

Maholm kept Milwaukee off the board through the first four innings, but the Brewers threatened in the fifth, drawing within two after a two-run single by Schafer and a two-run homer from Jonathan Lucroy.

Maholm (8-6) worked out of it, though, retiring Rickie Weeks and Yuniesky Betancourt to end the inning. Maholm finished his day giving up four runs, eight hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

Milwaukee loaded the bases against a trio of Braves relievers in the seventh, but pinch-hitter Juan Francisco popped out to McCann in foul territory to end the threat.

Dan Uggla gave Atlanta a three-run lead with an RBI single in the ninth.

Craig Kimbrel was perfect in the bottom of the inning to pick up his 21st save of the season.

NOTES: Milwaukee had two pitchers out on rehab assignments on Sunday. RHP Marco Estrada gave up six runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings for Class A Wisconsin but RHP Hiram Burgos' scheduled start for Triple-A Nashville shortened because of rain. Burgos threw just 22 pitches, allowing a hit, a walk and a wild pitch before rain postponed the game. ... Atlanta snapped an eight-game losing streak at Miller Park. ... Justin Upton was held out of the game with what Gonzalez called a sore right hand. Upton also did not play Saturday, and with an off-day Monday, Gonzalez hopes the three days of rest will be enough to have Upton ready on Tuesday when the Braves go to Kansas City.

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