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Pirates 6, Braves 0

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH - Wandy Rodriguez sure looked healthy Friday night as he stopped the hottest team in baseball cold.

The Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander pitched seven scoreless innings to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-0 at PNC Park.

Rodriguez had not pitched since straining his left hamstring on April 8 in a start at Arizona and being forced from the game. He missed his last scheduled start on Sunday against Cincinnati.

However, Rodriguez (2-0) allowed only one hit and faced the minimum 21 batters in his seven-inning stint Friday while striking out five. Jason Heyward singled to right field with one out in the fourth inning but was erased on Justin Upton's double-play grounder.

Mark Melancon and Vin Mazzaro completed the two-hit shutout with one inning each. Mazzaro gave up a leadoff single to Andrelton Simmons in the ninth inning but he was also erased on a double play grounder off the bat of Gerald Laird.

The Braves have the best record in the major leagues at 13-3 despite losing for the second time in three games. All three losses have been by shutout, and they are 13-0 when they score at least one run.

Atlanta also leads the major leagues with 29 home runs, including four in the series opener Thursday night when they beat Pittsburgh 6-4. However, Rodriguez has held the Braves without a homer in nine straight starts dating to 2008.

Atlanta's frustration showed in the seventh when B.J. Upton argued a called third strike leadoff the inning and was ejected by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook.

Braves starter Tim Hudson (2-1) was denied in his bid for his 200th career victory as was tagged for six runs and nine hits in four-plus innings. Hudson was trying to become the 110th pitcher to reach that milestone.

Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run home run and Garrett Jones had a two-run single for Pittsburgh. Alvarez has homers in back-to-back games after going the first 14 games of the season without hitting any.

Alvarez's drive off Hudson in the second inning cleared the right-field stands and was estimated at 430 feet. That came a night after he blasted a 448-foot shot that slammed high off the batter's eye in center field and came against Atlanta's Julio Teheran.

Travis Snider, Neil Walker and Russell Martin had two hits each for the Pirates.

Pittsburgh used four extra-base hits to score the game's first three runs in the second inning off Hudson.

Walker led off with a triple down the left-field line and Alvarez followed with a long home run.

Russell Martin followed with a double high off the right-field wall and scored on Jose Tabata's two-out double to right.

The Pirates doubled their lead to 6-0 with a three-run fifth. Jones hit an opposite-field two-run single to left to knock Hudson out of the game, and Andrew McCutchen scored on Anthony Varvaro's wild pitch with the bases loaded on what would have been an inning-ending strikeout of John McDonald.

NOTES Atlanta left-handed reliever Luis Avilan (strained left hamstring) will avoid time on the disabled list after throwing 25 pitches off a mound Friday without pain. He was injured Tuesday in the ninth inning of a game against Kansas City. ... Braves third baseman Juan Francisco did not start against a left-hander as he is hitting just .125 versus lefties this season but .361 against right-handers. ... Left fielder Starling Marte and shortstop Clint Barmes both were out of Pittsburgh's lineup. Marte went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts Thursday night against Atlanta to end his 10-game hitting streak and Barmes entered Friday hitless in his last 11 at-bats to drop his batting average to .100. ... Atlanta left-hander Paul Maholm (3-0, 0.00) faces Pirates right-hander James McDonald (1-1, 5.27) on Saturday night.
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